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Sheep Newsletter - October 2022

10 October 2022
Type Newsletter

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In this month's edition:

  • Grassland management
    October is the month that sets up the grass for the coming year. Decisions made during this and the following months will play a big role in how much grass will be available next spring. Start closing your grazing ground from early to mid October onwards.
  • Lime
    It is an ideal time to correct soil pH by spreading lime. Correcting soil pH will release nutrients that are locked up in the soil and improve the efficiency with which organic and chemical fertilisers are utilised by the soil.
  • Liver fluke
    If you have not received factory feedback on livers, then it is a good time to take a faecal sample from your ewes. A positive faecal sample indicates infection and that treatment is needed.
  • Stomach worms
    It’s the last chance of the year to do a drench test to find out what wormers are still effective on your farm. Ewe lambs being retained as replacements are ideal for this.
  • Mating ewes
    When do you mate your ewes? The appropriate time to mate your ewes will depend on your stocking rate and when you can expect to have adequate grass next spring. If you find that you have to supplement ewes and lambs post turnout due to grass shortages, you are lambing too early (or not closing up in time in the autumn/winter).
  • Length of the mating season
    How long is your mating season? The length of your mating season dictates the length of your lambing season. Many sheep farmers are part-time, working off farm and maybe taking holidays to lamb ewes. 
  • Raddle your rams
    Use a raddle on your rams to guard against infertility. It is important that colours are changed at least every two weeks (ideally every week), so that the number of repeat ewes can be identified.
  • BETTER Farm Update - Breeding
    Frank Campion, Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Teagasc Athenry reports on breeding on the BETTER sheep farms. The midseason flocks are just on the point of the breeding season. Flocks will begin joining rams between October 1 and 26, depending on desired lambing date. Ewes were checked in August and cull ewes removed, with thin ewes separated for preferential feeding in order to try and rebuild body condition.
  • Research Update - Mating underway for the 2023 season
    Fiona McGovern, Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Teagasc Athenry, Co. Galway reports on mating of the INZAC Flock at Athenry. Grass growing conditions have remained consistent since my last update. Average grass growth over the past few weeks has been 61kg DM/day with 26 days ahead. Having a surplus for us at this time of year is always welcome as our grazing pressure increases with multiple mating groups.