Our Organisation Search
Quick Links
Toggle: Topics
Placeholder image

Sheep Newsletter - December 2023

11 December 2023
Type Newsletter

Download Publication (PDF)

In this month's edition:

  • Grassland
    Stick to your closing plan. March-lambing flocks will need to have 60% of the sheep’s grazing area already closed, with 80% closed by mid December. This leaves the final 20% of the grazing block available, i.e., the areas that will be grazed last next spring. There will be the temptation to regraze areas closed up in October and early November to delay housing. Doing this will have a severe negative impact on grass availability at turnout and consequently ewe and lamb performance next spring.
  • Soil test
    What fields underperformed this season? Is poor soil fertility limiting grass production? Improving soil fertility, particularly soil pH, will improve nutrient use efficiency, grass production and contribute to improving the environmental sustainability of your farm. Contact your advisor to arrange getting fields soil sampled.
  • Ewe body condition
    One of the consequences of a difficult grazing season was the negative impact it has had on ewe body condition this autumn. Where the flock average may only be slightly back, there is likely a cohort of thinner ewes, e.g., with a body condition score (BCS) of 2.5 or less, that will require attention.
  • Housing
    Many farms will have to house stock earlier this season. Where possible try to house sheep dry, as it can take up to a week to dry a fleece. Where conditions don’t allow, try to house batches separately where possible and ensure adequate ventilation in the shed.
  • Ram management post mating
    Rams are a significant investment for a flock but little attention is paid at times after the mating season. However, a small investment of time and inputs during the post-mating period could improve ram longevity in your flock.
  • Forage testing
    Arrange getting your forage tested this winter to determine its true feed value. This will allow you to tailor your winter feed plan to avoid under/overfeeding.
  • Let’s Talk Sheep webinars
    The Let’s Talk Sheep webinar series will recommence on December 13 at 8pm, where the Teagasc Sheep team will cover key aspects of winter housing and feeding plans. For more details and registration, click here
  • BETTER Farm Update - Importance of review
    Frank Campion, of the Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Athenry, Co. Galway reports on how it is vital to do a yearly review, even more so in difficult years. After a comparatively difficult year with wet weather making grazing conditions difficult and impacting flock performance most farmers will be glad to welcome in 2024. However, it’s important to review the year that’s just gone also to inform decisions for next year. With this in mind, all of the BETTER sheep farmers are analysing their silage to inform the winter feeding plans, taking soil samples where needed, and finally, they will be completing a profit monitor to review expenditure over the past 12 months.
  • Health & Safety - Staying safe over Christmas
    It is important to be mindful of the safety of children during this time. Ensure there is a safe secure play area in place when children are outside. When children are in the farmyard they must always be supervised. Easy to read danger signs should be in place and these signs should be explained to children. Give preventing fires in your home and on your farm your attention.