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THE reproductive management of a sheep flock presents a number of challenges, not only because sheep are seasonal breeders, but also because of the many management steps that are involved in the sheep reproductive cycle. A simplified version of the flock reproductive management cycle is shown in Fig 1.
The first step of breeding management is the selection of suitable ewes. Strong knowledge of the prolificacy of the selected breed is essential for later decision-making. The ewes should be in optimal body condition (between 3 and 3.5), have a good mouth, no feet or udder problems and no history of any obstetric problems. Closer to the planned start of the breeding season, a period of high nutrition known as ‘flushing’ will help to improve the chances of reproductive success (Robinson and others 2006). However, too much feeding has been shown to have a negative effect on fertility, therefore optimal nutritional management is about achieving a good balance (Boland and others 2001). …
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