Preg tests can add up to $50 to the price of breeding ewes says contractor

Preg scanning certificates now a valuable ewe marketing tool

Sheep
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A leading South Australian-based sheep preg testing contractor says the results are extremely accurate when everything is done right.

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MANY BENEFITS: Michelle Cousins from Cousins Merino Services said many of her sheep clients were now recording pregnancy scanning results through their eID tags.

MANY BENEFITS: Michelle Cousins from Cousins Merino Services said many of her sheep clients were now recording pregnancy scanning results through their eID tags.

An in-lamb scanning certificate can add up to $50 to the price of breeding ewes according to the director of a leading South Australian sheep pregnancy testing business.

Michelle Cousins, who operates Cousins Merino Services with husband Paul and their son Josh from their home base at Burra, said scanning certificates were now a valuable marketing tool.

She said scanning declaration certificates were easily obtained and all her family's clients were now receiving them.

AuctionsPlus was keen to have scanning result certificates accompany lines of joined ewes posted on its online sale site which wasn't surprising given the $20 to $50 premiums potentially on offer, she said.

Preg testing is now being pushed by a number of leading sheep breeding consultants and key research bodies as a valuable management aid for lifting lamb survival rates and speeding up flock rebuilding.

Ms Cousins outlined the benefits of preg testing and discussed issues which caused inaccuracies with some flock tests during a webinbar hosted by Sheep Connect NSW.

More than 80pc of producers on the webinar indicated they were preg scanning.

She conceded some producers shied away from preg testing because of fears over the accuracy of results but said when both preg testers and producers did everything right there was minimal room for error (98pc accuracy for dry/wet scanning and 96pc for multiples).

The key was good communication between the contractor and the producer.

Some of the common reasons for inaccuracy included ewes not being taken off feed the night before scanning (full rumens and bladders), an extended joining period, insufficient staff during scanning, fat animals (more than 4 score) and incorrect joining dates.

She said the best time to wet/dry scan was 35-40 days after the removal of rams up until lambing.

The optimal time for scanning for multiples was between 80 and 100 days from the start of joining.

Her family business preg tests about 700,000 sheep a year in SA and interstate.

Scanning identified dry ewes which could then be sold, rejoined or grazed at a higher stocking rate, she said.

Preg testing for multiples allowed better nutritional management of ewes based on their pregnancy status which paved the way for better animal welfare outcomes and higher lamb survival rates.

She said nutrition was the biggest driver of reproductive performance and lamb survival.

Increasing numbers of commercial producers were scanning using eIDs including 20-25pc of her company's clients, she said.

Ms Cousins said scanning costs varied between contractors but suggested a price range of 50 to 70 cents for wet/dry, 70-90c for multiples and an extra 10c for foetal ageing (plus travel costs).

The story Preg tests can add up to $50 to the price of breeding ewes says contractor first appeared on Farm Online.

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