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Sheep Newsletter - December 2022

14 December 2022
Type Newsletter

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In this month's edition:

  • Grassland
    Grazing management during November was difficult with flocks getting through grazing areas faster than planned due to challenging conditions, resulting in poor utilisation. As a result, some will have moved stock to off-farm grazing or housed them earlier. For those still grazing their own block, it’s vital to stay on track with the closing plan for your farm.
  • Plan for next year
    With high fertiliser costs, getting soil pH right is a must for the coming season. Check existing soil sample results or arrange to have new ones collected. Spreading lime where needed will improve grass growth in the coming year by releasing nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) that has been locked up in the soil. This will also help improve the efficiency of chemical N, P and K spread next season.
  • Forage testing
    How good is your silage/hay this winter? Testing your winter forage is a good investment that will provide you with the true feed value of forage. This will allow you to tailor your winter feed plan to avoid under/overfeeding. With high concentrate prices you may be able to reduce the amount used where high feed value silage is available.
  • Scanning
    To get the best results, aim to scan ewes as close to 80 days post ram turnout as possible. Using the scanning results, ewes should be divided on the basis of predicted litter size and fed accordingly.
  • Thin ewe survey
    The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) at the regional veterinary laboratories (RVLs) and Teagasc are currently undertaking a thin ewe study. The study aims to provide information on the causes of ill thrift/poor body condition score (BCS) in ewes.
  • BETTER Farm Update - Mating
    Frank Campion, Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Teagasc Athenry reports on breeding on the BETTER sheep farms. Rams were introduced on the hill flocks between November 1 and 20 depending on the flock. The majority of ewes were joined with hill-bred rams to ensure there are sufficient ewe lambs next year to either maintain or increase ewe numbers, depending on the individual farm plan. 
  • Research Update - Wrapping up 2022
    Fiona McGovern, Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Teagasc Athenry, Co. Galway reports on the end of the year on the INZAC flock at Athenry. Rams were removed from our ewes on November 21 after a six-week mating period following artificial insemination. Currently, repeat numbers seem low with a total of 6.5% repeat matings recorded across all groups. We will have to wait until scanning in early January to get a more accurate picture of performance; however, current figures are on par with previous years.
  • 12 steps to reducing emissions
    Over 12 months, the Teagasc advisory newsletters will outline one action per month farmers can take to reduce their emissions. This month, the focus is on step two - Apply protected urea.