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OviCast Sheep Podcast

OviCast is presented by Ciaran Lynch and brings you the latest advice, insights and technical updates for the sheep industry.

Episode 16

In this episode we are joined by Tomas O'Leary who is farming outside Killarney Co. Kerry. Tomas runs a 300 ewe sheep flock along side a contract heifer rearing system.

Running a prolific flock of ewes with an annual scanned litter size of 2.2, Tomas has a lot of multipiles on the farm. In order to effectively manage the additional lambs, he chooses to artifically rear the third lamb along with any other orphan lambs that arise.

We catch up with Tomas towards the end of lambing to discuss how he manages his artifically rearing system. He also shares some of his top tips on how to make it more efficent. Heres a link to a short video clip of his setup: https://youtu.be/AJ91aIXJRwo

Episode 15

In this episode Michael Gottstein Head of Sheep in Teagasc joins us to discuss coccidiosis in lambs. Michael starts by describing the condition itself and the clinical symptoms infected lambs will display.

He moves on to describe the impact it has on lamb health, subsequent performance and ways by which farmers can reduce the enviromental challenge. In the final segment Michael outlines the various treament options available.

Episode 14

In this episode we are joined by Michael Gottstein, Head of Sheep in Teagasc who discusses the Grass Tetany in ewes.
With many ewes in the early stages of lactation the difficult grazing conditions and adverse weather this spring presents a high risk period for Grass Tetany. Michael discusses the predisposing factors encountered on farms that increase the risk and some of the preventive measures that can be employed at this stage of the season. Michael finishes up discussing how clinical cases need to be treated.

Episode 13

In this episode we focus on the management of ewe lambs during the growing phase from the first winter to Joining as 18 month old Hogget’s. We are joined by Dr. Tim Keady who has conducted a number of research studies in this area. Tim outlines how management during the growing phase can influence subsequent performance as mature ewes. We discuss the key performance targets, nutrient requirements and what interventions can be made to keep performance on track.

Episode 12

In this episode we a focus on nitrogen use on farms. We are joined by Dr. David Wall Teagasc Johnstown Castle who starts by discussing the various factors affecting the efficiency of Nitrogen use. David offers his tips on how to get the best return on early spring applications. With an increased emphasis on the inclusion of protected urea in fertilizer programmes, David explains the difference between protected and standard urea and how it has benefits both economically and environmentally for farmers.
List of Protected-urea Fertilisers: Protected Urea List- December 2019 (PDF)
Technical information on protected urea: Protected Urea
Spring Fertilizer advice: Early Nitrogen Advice Grassland (PDF)

Episode 11

In this episode we focus on late pregnancy nutrition, we are joined by Dr. Tim Keady who shares some of his insights in the area. Tim starts by discussing the impact late pregnancy nutrition has on flock performance. We move on to discuss concentrate formulation, ingredient inclusion and how the ewe’s nutrient requirements change during this period. Tim discusses some of the key findings of research studies that he has undertaking in Teagasc that evaluated the effect of source of protein in the diet during late pregnancy has on ewe and lamb performance. We finish up with Tim offering his tips on what he looks for in a concentrate and the pelleted concentrate he has formulated for use this year in Teagasc Athenry.

Episode 10

In this episode we are joined with Damien Costello Sheep Specialist who discussed some of the key management issues to consider during the housing period. Damian outlines why correct space allowance is a key consideration during the housing period. Damian also covers the importance of good ventilation, feed management and hygiene practices. We finish up discussing ways to improve the efficiency of the housing setup and ways in which it can be modified to improve efficiency and productivity of the system.

Episode 9

In this episode, we are joined by Liz Genever, an independent sheep consultant from the UK (Twitter - @LizGenever) to discuss the importance of managing condition score in flocks. We start by discussing the practice of condition scoring and the key time points during the year when it is important to assess it. Liz discusses some of the key findings of the AHDB’s funded key performance indicators project and the on-going Challenge Sheep project on the impact of condition on flock productivity. Following on from this Liz shares her insights and on why it’s important to actively manage condition during the year and why it’s necessary to manage thin and young sheep ewes separately from the main flock.

Episode 8

Within the industry there is a renewed interest in sheep dips as a means of external parasite control. Firstly we are joined by Michael Gottstein Head of Sheep in Teagasc who discusses the role sheep dips both fixed and mobile units can play in external parasite control. He also offers his views on why they may be the better option in the coming years particularly for sheep scab control. Michael also takes us through the vital steps necessary when preparing to dip sheep from animal preparation and the use of personal protective equipment. In the second half of the podcast we are joined by Kevin O’Sullivan ASSAP programme Advisor in Co Kerry. Kevin discusses best practice for dip procedure to minimise the risk of any environmental impact offering key advice on dipping procedure and dip disposal.

Episode 7

In this episode we are joined by Dr Frank Campion who discusses a new research trial that has started in Teagasc Athenry. The project aims to examine the role of alternative forages in store lambs finishing systems. Frank starts by giving us some background to the project and previous work on store lambs in Teagasc Athenry. We discuss crop selection and establishment and some of the targets he hopes to achieve with lambs grazing on these various crops. A cohort of lambs will also be finished indoors and on grass based diets to provide some comparative performance. With the project only in its infancy its certainly one we will be revisiting in the coming months.

Episode 6

Grazing focus – Gearing up for the autumn In this episode we are joined by Dr Philip Creighton to discuss setting up the grazing rotation for the autumn. We start by discuss current grass supply and demand targets for September and October. Phil discusses the importance that autumn closing has on spring grass availability and why it is necessary to set up for the final grazing rotation now. He also highlights the key targets for the sheep autumn closing plan. A copy of the Teagasc Autumn closing planner for sheep can be found at the following link: https://www.teagasc.ie/media/website/animals/sheep/Sheep-Autumn-Closing-Planner.pdf. We finish up by discussing what aspects of soil fertility we can still address at this stage of the season.

Episode 5

In this episode we are joined by Michael Gottstein Head of Sheep in Teagasc to discuss biosecurity risks posed when introducing new sheep to the flock. Michael outlines the potential risks that can be introduced to a flock from purchased animals, from resistant parasite and lameness to abortive agents and iceberg diseases. Having a quarantine procedure in place to deal with stock entering the farm is a vital step, Michael takes us through the mitigating strategies that can be employed to reduce the risks. We also discuss some of the potential vaccination programmes that can be implemented on farm to reduce the effects of abortive agents. Some of these unwanted conditions have a long incubation period before physical signs are evident. We discuss the benefits of examining stock on farm and purchasing stock from a limited number of known sources.

Episode 4

Ram Focus - Using Genetic Information

In this episode we are joined by Dr Noirin McHugh from Teagasc and Kevin McDermott programme manager with Sheep Ireland. Since the introduction of the Eurostar index in sheep we now have an additional tool to use when selecting rams. Noirin talks us through the terminal and replacement index and the key criteria to pay attention. We also get the opportunity to discuss the results on the on farm validation of the Eurostar index which examined the differences observed in progeny from high and low genetic merit rams on commercial farms. In the second half of the podcast we catch up with Kevin McDermott. We start the conversation discusses the level of breeder involvement and information being recorded with Sheep Ireland. We also discuss the online ram search tool that’s available on their website (www.sheep.ie). Kevin also describes the across breed evaluation a new initiative launched in 2019 and how this can be used by commercial farmers.

Episode 3

Internal parasite control

In this episode we catch up with Dr Orla Keane to discuss the topic of worm control during the mid-season period. We start by identifying the parasites that are encountered during the summer and autumn months and how parasite burden effects lamb performance. Controlling parasite burden has been predominantly reliant on anthelminthic treatment. However as an industry domestically and internationally we face the challenge of anthelminthic resistance where the available products that we depend on have reduced efficacy. During the session Orla describes what resistance is and how it can occur on farm. With a number of studies conducted on this area in recent years Orla discusses the anthelmintic resistance status of the national flock and how it has changed in recent years. She also outlines the potential strategies that could be implemented on farm to prolong the efficacy of the available products such as faecal egg testing and using correct dosing.

Episode 2

Silage feed value

In this episode we catch up with Dr Tim Keady to discuss the production of high feed value grass silage. We start by discussing silage feed value and its impact on animal performance and the benefits that can be gained from improving silage digestibility. We discuss many of the factors that can influence digestibility – including sward heading date, grazing management prior to closing, the negative impact lodging has etc. Tim discusses his views on the pros and cons of wilting and why a rapid wilt is preferable. Tim also comments on the effect of silage chop length for sheep systems. With an increasing quantity of silage being baled from paddocks with heavy covers from the grazing area Tim discusses key management issues. Lastly, Tim offers his views on how to approach silage harvesting in during periods of inclement weather.

Episode 1

INZAC Flock Performance & Grassland management

For the first episode we are in Teagasc Sheep Research Centre in Athenry Co. Galway where we focus on flock performance and grassland management.

We catch up with Dr Fiona McGovern who provides us with some background to the INZAC project currently running in Athenry as well as an update on how the flock has performed this spring. With he challenges of grassland management during May we get the opportunity to discuss grazing management with Dr Philip Creighton. With increased growth rates and a surplus on many farms Philip outlines his tips on how to maintain lamb performance, keeping grass covers on target and fertilizer recommendations for the coming weeks.