Sheep Newsletter - March 2022
Get the latest information & advice from Teagasc Sheep in this month's newsletter. It includes: grassland; Buyer beware – flock biosecurity; Investigate problems; Getting off to the best start – colostrum; hygiene; BETTER Farm and Research updates on scanning; Reducing problem ewes and OviCast
View the Sheep Newsletter - March 2022 (PDF)
In this month's edition:
Target a pre-grazing cover of 1,000-1,200kg DM/ha (7-8cm) grazing down to a residual of 3.5cm in March into early April. With some heavier covers on farms this year achieving graze outs in a timely manner will be more difficult.
- Buyer beware – flock biosecurity
Buying in foster ewes to rear lambs or pet lambs to put on ewes may seem like a good idea at the time as it solves one problem, but you could be creating a worse issue for your flock.
- Investigate problems
Infectious agents are the main cause of lamb mortality on Irish farms. Where problems occur in the lead-up to or during lambing, such as abortion in ewes or increased mortality, contact your vet to address the issue and submit samples to the local regional veterinary laboratory to identify what the cause is.
- Getting off to the best start – colostrum
Where lambs don’t get off to a good start, either as a result of their own or maternal problems, it’s vital that they are supplemented appropriately. Lambs should receive 50ml of colostrum per kg liveweight within the first six hours of life and 200ml per kg within the first 24 hours of life.
Good hygiene in the lambing shed during this busy period is a vital step to reducing the level and spread of disease and improving lamb survival. Keeping individual pens and lambing areas clean and dry is the first step to reduce the newborn lamb’s exposure to infection.
- BETTER Farm Update - Scanning on the hill
Frank Campion, Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Athenry, Co. Galway reports on scanning on the BETTER sheep farms.
All bar one of the Teagasc BETTER hill sheep farms have pregnancy scanned ewes at the time of writing.
- Research Update - Scanning and supplementation
Philip Creighton, Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Teagasc Athenry, Co. Galway reports on the latest from the Sheep Research Demonstration Farm. Ewes were scanned in early January. Preliminary analysis shows an overall scan rate of 1.77 lambs per ewe put to the ram. Barren rate was 3% after a five-week mating period.
- Reducing problem ewes in the flock
To improve the efficiency of a flock and reduce the labour input, identify problem ewes during the lambing period. Identifying in a permanent manner and culling problematic ewes (e.g., ewes with prolapse or poor mothering ability, bottle teats) will help develop a more productive flock long term.
The Teagasc sheep podcast has a regular updates covering technical aspects on grassland, breeding, nutrition and health, as well as industry-focused episodes. Scan the QR code and start listening.