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Sheep Newsletter - November 2023

06 November 2023
Type Newsletter

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In this month's edition:

  • Grassland management
    The aim for November is to continue to clean off pastures to a cover of 3.5-4.0cm. This allows light to get to base of the grass plant, thus encouraging tillering and ensuring high-quality spring pastures. In particular, if you are dealing with heavy covers, allocating three- to four-day blocks using temporary fencing is advised.
  • Keep a close eye on mating
    Monitor the progress of mating closely and continue with the important task of raddling the ram to the end of mating period. It is good practice to change raddle colour weekly for the first three weeks of mating. Watch out for over marking of repeats after the first cycle to pick up any ram infertility/subfertility issues. There is potential to join groups of ewes up at this stage, as less ram power will be required to cover any repeats.
  • Liver fluke
    The Department of Agriculutre, Food and the Marine (DAFM) issues a fluke forecast annually, usually in late November, based on weather data for the year as well as information from slaughter plants. There have been some reports of factory feedback indicating the presence of liver fluke in slaughtered lambs and cull ewes. If this feedback can be obtained from abattoirs it is the best indicator of where your farm is at in relation to liver fluke infection.
  • BETTER Farm Update - Ewe performance
    Frank Campion, of the Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Teagasc Athenry reports on mating liveweights and BCS on the BETTER sheep farms. Mature ewe BCS is mixed across the flocks with some of the farms hitting their target of 3.5, and some coming close to it. A couple of the flocks’ ewes are thinner than they would have wanted at mating time for various reasons, including flock health.
  • Research Update - Lamb performance
    Philip Creighton, Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Teagasc Athenry, Co. Galway reports on lamb performance across the groups on the Sheep Research Demonstration Farm. Rams were turned out to ewes on October 6. Ewe BCS going to the ram averaged 3.2. The average replacement rate across the groups this year was 27%. Up to mid October, approximately 65% of lambs from the grass-only treatments and 75% of lambs from the grass plus white clover and grass plus white clover plus plantain treatments had been drafted.
  • Health & Safety - Be winter ready
    Preparation is key to minimise disruption to farming activities during severe weather events. The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment has developed a practical checklist for farms, which outlines key issues when planning for, and in response to, severe weather events this winter.