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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 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.