Tapping into a lamb's psychology for a lifetime of productivity

Considering the psychology of a lamb at weaning

Sheep
Achieve Ag principal Nathan Scott said even when it comes to selling lambs over the hooks, there are potential benefits for the industry.

Achieve Ag principal Nathan Scott said even when it comes to selling lambs over the hooks, there are potential benefits for the industry.

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For a lifetime of productivity, consider tapping into a lamb's psychology at weaning time.

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Giving consideration to the psychology of a lamb at weaning will not only give them their best possible start, it will set them up for a lifetime of productivity.

This is according to Nathan Scott, principal of Achieve Ag Solutions, who said In terms of weaning, it is one of the most underestimated components.

"For whatever reason people think once the lambs are off mum they will just figure it out," Mr Scott said.

"But lambs have spent their whole life following and never leading.

"They have no mob dynamic - no one knows what the pecking order is. As producers we just draft them off onto a big paddock and off they run, and they keep running."

He suggested at an early age, influencing the lamb as much as possible and getting them conditioned.

"By getting them conditioned we are setting them up to do anything that we ever want them to do in their life," he said.

"Get them to see it with mum - if mum thinks it is safe then it is fine. That is the first bit that we can manipulate in terms of psychology."

He said from there it is allowing them to adjust to the fact that they don't have any ewes around them anymore and letting them get used to that in a safe environment.

"There is always going to be the flight response to any new event or any new stress," Mr Scott said.

"The idea is to allow the lambs to respond to that, but limit the impact that it can have on them by having them in a safe, contained area."

The smaller the mobs are at weaning, the quicker the lambs will settle and the easier it is for you to track the growth rates from that point forward, he said.

Beyond that, it is about making sure the nutrition is spot on.

"Simply holding them in a small holding paddock, educating them to you, your dogs, vehicles and each other will allow them to develop their own mob dynamic before you let them out," Mr Scott said.

"Calm them, get them used to humans so they don't have that big stress response and back away from you every time you appear at the yards.

"Every time you go past, stop, get out, walk through them. Take the dog through them. It doesn't have to be a major time constraint, it is just taking that opportunity."

Mr Scott said breed doesn't factor into the equation, but he would put a higher emphasis on replacements because they are likely to be on the farm for the next five or six years.

"But even if they are sale lambs, still do it. The less stress response we get, then the better the growth rates you can expect to achieve later on," he said.

"Even when it comes to selling lambs over the hooks, there are potential benefits for the industry.

"We know a stressed animal urinates and there is the potential for extra dehydration in animals so the less stress response we can create by having them more educated onto all of these different things the better the outcome."

"This isn't some amazing revolution we are trying to achieve, it is simply giving consideration to the fact that the lamb doesn't know what is going on.

"We want lambs to leave with their heads down feeding, no surprises and not running off into the sunset."

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