Why is it measured?

Mortality rates vary between different age groups of sheep and also between different farming systems. For example estimates of lamb pre-weaning mortality in the UK vary considerably between 10 and 30% with most of these mortalities occurring within the first 3 days of postnatal life. Annual ewe mortality rates in the UK are estimated at around 5-7%. High levels of mortality are not only often associated with suffering but also represent a significant economic loss to the farmer. It is calculated that neonatal lamb deaths cost between £20-25 per lamb, whilst ewe and ram deaths cost significantly more. It is possible to reduce deaths through good hygiene, nutrition, management, breed selection, vaccination, parasite monitoring etc. Post mortem examination has been shown to be a valuable tool in not only determining the cause of the individual death but also highlighting issues that may be affecting others in the flock (e.g. internal parasites, infectious diseases, metabolic diseases, injury) and thereby preventing further deaths.

How to assess and score using the AssureWel measure

7. Mortality                                                                                                                                                       Records
Check farm records and record the number of ewes in the last 12 months for the following categories:

a) Number of planned culls
b) Number of unplanned culls or casualties (died or killed on farm) in the last 12 months.

Please, when possible, also record reasons for cull / casualty ewes.

c) Record (when possible) Scanning percentage = number of lambs scanned / number of ewes put to the tup x 100
d) Record Rearing percentage = number of lambs reared*/ number of ewes put to the tup x 100

Please, when possible also record main reasons for lamb losses.

*reared = sold as finished or store lambs, or sold/retained for breeding

  1. Lameness
  2. Body Condition Score (Thin sheep)
  3. Dirtiness
  4. Fleece loss
  5. Sheep needing further care
  6. Castration, tail docking and ear notching
  7. Mortality


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