Ewe body condition score (BCS) is known to be associated with many ewe production traits. Descriptive and multivariate analyses were undertaken on existing datasets comprising 266,405 BCS observations from 86,444 individual two-tooth and mixed-age ewes on six commercially managed sheep farms in the North Island of New Zealand. The BCS observations were collected at pre-breeding, pregnancy diagnosis, set-stocking and weaning between the years 2009-2021. Overall, the majority of BCS observations were 2.5 or 3.0 while 9.7% were BCS <2.5. At the key management times of pre-breeding and set-stocking, when it is recommended that ewes should be BCS 3.0 and above, 39% and 50% respectively of ewes were BCS <3.0. Mixed-age ewes had greater odds of being BCS <2.5 compared with two-tooth ewes, but with variation between BCS observation time, farm and year. While these data are from only six farms, if they are indicative of other North Island sheep farms they demonstrate significant room for improvement in individual ewe BCS for optimal production.

AL, Ridler, KJ Flay, PR Kenyon, KE Lawrence, and RA Corner-Thomas

New Zealand Journal of Animal Science and Production, Volume 82, Online, 28-32, 2022
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