Managing ewe lambs during pregnancy

In this section of our Breeding from ewe lambs series, we look at feeding during pregnancy to maintain continuous growth.


There is likely to be a higher percentage of empty ewes within a group of ewe lambs than within a group of mature ewes. Pregnancy scanning ewe lambs is important for identifying non-pregnant animals and gives enough time to manage them differently, e.g. to sell them for slaughter, sell for breeding or keep for breeding in a subsequent year. Information on litter size is also vital for correct feeding management.


During early and mid-pregnancy, ewe lambs need about 20% more feed than mature ewes of a similar weight to sustain their continuing development.

From two months after rams are removed, a growth rate of at least 150 g/day is desirable.

Most fetal growth occurs in utero during the last six weeks of pregnancy. In this phase, overfeeding ewes can lead to oversized lambs and difficult births.

During this time, it is best to feed for maintenance and the growth of the lamb in utero, based on liveweight and litter size.

Example rations for pregnancy. A flat rate feeding regime involving only moderate amounts of concentrate feed is particularly important in late pregnancy.

From two months of gestation to six weeks before lambing

Last six weeks of pregnancy

Moderate quality silage or hay to appetite

Concentrate (16% crude protein, kg/head/day):

Singles – 0.2

Twins – 0.3

Winter grass and moderate quality silage or hay (all to appetite)

Concentrate (16% crude protein, kg/head/day) :

Singles – 0.2

Twins – 0.3

Moderate quality silage or hay to appetite

Concentrate (18% crude protein, kg/head/day)

Singles – 0.25

Twins – 0.5

Example rations for single and twin pregnancies in ewe lambs.


Metabolisable energy (ME MJ/kg)

Crude protein (%)




Silage (25% dry matter)





16 or 18

For more information on feeding replacement ewe lambs, see Feeding the ewe, chapter 7.

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