The Sheep Scanning Process
Sheep Scanning is a process where we use an ultrasound scanner to externally examine a ewe to see if she is in lamb. We can also identify how many lambs she’s bearing.
The process is carried out for several reasons. First of all, we need to know which ewe’s are pregnant. The important finding here are the empty ewe’s. You don’t want to be overfeeding those animals, if they’re not going to bear a lamb.
Additionally, there could be a reason why some of the ewes are empty. They may not be able to get back in lamb so they don’t have to be included within the group. For the pregnant ones, we need to know how many lambs they’re bearing so that you can adjust the level of nutrients accordingly. If you over feed a ewe with a single lamb, it will become so big, that very often you will only be able to deliver it by caesarean section. So ultrasound scanning is better for the sheep and it’s also more efficient for the farmer.
The Sheep’s Fertility Cycle
Sheep scanning can be very seasonal. Most times the vast majority of ewe’s are put to the tup (or the ram) between August and December. There are certain breeds such as the Dorset that might be earlier.
You can beginning scanning them from 30 days onwards and up to five months just before they lamb. The ideal time to scan them is between 45 to 75 days.
If the ewe has twins it may be difficult to identify them when scanning beyond 90 days, particularly if the lambs are one behind the other and not side by side, as the lamb in front will block the view to the scanner.
As long as you’re not examining them internally, you don’t fall under the jurisdiction of any of the existing laws. It’s only when you wish to carry out a transrectal examination of the animal that you need to be qualified.
DIY Ultrasound Benefits
There are two main considerations when performing the scan yourself.
The first is the cost of the scanner. A cheaper scanner may be around £1000-2000 but the results are like us trying to see through a keyhole, these types also often come with no after sale support. A more expensive scanner could be over £7000 but this will give you a much wider field of view. In addition it will also give you a better picture quality with increased definition.
The second is being able to identify the images you see. For example the difference between a lamb and normal anatomical structures of the uterus things like the placentomes.
You can find out more about DIY Sheep scanning with our Sheep Scanning Courses