Milk production in ewes usually lasts between 60 to 120 days. The milk production increases from the birth of the lamb and it reaches its peak at 4 to 6 weeks. It starts to decline after it reaches its peak. Milk production is very important during the first 3 weeks as it is the lambs only source of nutrition.
Older ewe's tend to produce more milk.
The ewes nutrition during gestation and while lactating has a huge effect on the quantity and quality of the ewes milk. Ewes underfed during this time will have a rapid decline in milk production. Ewes with poor body condition will have poor milk production.
In order for the ewe to have high quality milk she must have a high quality diet.
If a ewe has a parasite problem this will effect her condition and thereon the lactation.
Ewes milk is 85%water so the sheep should always have access to clean fresh water.
The fat content in a ewes milk mostly comes from roughage. If you want to increase the quality of the ewes milk the ewes diet should be supplemented with extra roughage such as hay.
The amount of nutrients required during lactation is dependant upon the number of lambs the ewe has drooped.
There is a big difference in nutritional requirements between single, twin and triplet mothers.
The ewes should be split up into different groups for feeding according to whether they have had singles. twins or triplets.
Remember overfeeding of ewes after they have had the lambs can lead to milk production problems. It can be just as damaging as underfeeding.
The overfeeding can create problems with acidosis which can lead to less milk production rather than more.
You also need to avoid overfeeding of grain in the weeks before weaning. You need to modify the pre-weaning feeding of ewe's to reduce the risk of mastitis.
The last 10 days before weaning, the grain and hay feeding needs to be reduced.
Feeding straw 2-3 days before weaning helps shut down milk production.
After weaning the ewe's should be maintained on low quality feed for 4 to 7 days.
If a ewe has lost a lamb and is not feeding a lamb she needs to be maintained on a low quality feed to halt lactation.