Body Condition Scoring pre-mating to lift ewe performance

// Condition Scoring

Six weeks before the ram goes out is an ideal time to be body condition scoring ewes, in the lead up to mating.

Image of farmers body conditioning scoring ewes

According to Beef + Lamb New Zealand, the percentage of the ewe flock below Body Condition Score 3 at mating and lambing that is the single most important factor influencing the profitability of a ewe flock.

It is these poor condition ewes that bring down the overall performance of the flock.

This was reiterated by Massey University’s Paul Kenyon who says the biggest percentage jump in scanning percentage will come from reducing the number of poor condition ewes at mating.

The report found that body condition scoring ewes was a driver of profitability and a key component of top performing sheep flocks. The three best times to Body Condition Score (BCS) are pre-mating, scanning and weaning.


By preferentially feeding ewes that have a BCS below three (they may require supplementary feed), their body condition and lambing percentage can be improved.

It is also recommended that a faecal egg count is carried out on these low condition score ewes as they may require a drench.

Scientists estimate lambing percentages increase by 6–10 per cent for every extra unit of body condition score at tupping. The flushing effect may provide an additional 5–10 per cent.

Ewes need 1.0-1.3kgDM/head/day of average to good quality feed   just to hold body condition during mating and early pregnancy. 

Ideally, the ewe mob should be rotated rapidly on to pasture that is 5–6 cm height. Grazing below 3 cm or 1,500 kg DM/ha will result in loss of body condition and lower lambing rates.