How condition scoring my sheep has helped! What is condition scoring?

Below are some thoughts and comments from a fellow producer who is condition scoring sheep on his property.



Q1: What is condition scoring?

A: Condition Scoring (CS) is an assessment which can be used to determine the nutritional well-being of ewes for reproduction. It’s a quick easy way of looking at flesh cover over the spine and ends of the short ribs and the fullness of the eye muscle between the two.  Each sheep only takes a few seconds to assess.

Q2: Can you explain how it is different to fat scoring?

A: Fat scoring (FS) is more relevant to assessing animals for slaughter.  It looks at tissue depth (fat + muscle) at a specific site over the last long rib. Both condition scoring and fat scoring use a scale of 1 to 5 but the scores do not correlate with each other.

Q3: At what stage of the reproductive cycle do you use condition scoring?  Can you see a use for it at other times throughout the reproductive stage? If yes, then when?

A: So far I have used it to assess the maiden ewes prior to joining. The maidens that were not up to the required CS to fall pregnant at joining were fed supplements. You need to CS early enough before joining to allow time to build up their condition. Although I haven’t used it due to time constraints, there are other critical times CS is beneficial to lamb survival.

Q4: What benefits do you achieve or why do you use it?

A: This is only my 2nd year that I have used CS but the whole idea is to try & determine the nutritional health of my ewes so that they become pregnant & bear strong & healthy lambs that will survive.  Trials have shown that for every extra CS the reproductive rate goes up about 20%. I want to increase the number of lambs born and then give them the best chance to survive. I think using condition scoring as a management tool helps me to do this.

Leading Sheep would like to thank David for his time and comments!

Leave a comment