Farmers flock to Texel society open evening
A part-time farming enterprise of 400 pedigree Texel breeding ewes was the focus for the scores of farmers who attended the Irish Texel Sheep Society South West open evening.
Good farm facilities were described as key to the success of the management of the flock by Diarmuid Keane from Grouse Lodge, Ardagh, west Limerick who maintains his flock on a land base of 135 acres while working off farm.
A spacious new sheep shed, together with some assistance from his parents, John and Mary Ita, and his sheep discussion group, co-ordinated by his Teagasc advisor, Pat Blackwell are contributing factors to the success of the enterprise.
One of the key speakers at the event was Teagasc's head of sheep programme Michael Gottstein who advised breeders on the importance of optimum body condition at mating. "A significant number of ewes are in poor body condition at mating which effects the performance of the lambs born.
"Ewes in good body condition at mating tend to be in better condition at lambing, and rear lambs that grow faster and have less losses," he told the sheep farmers.
He said that now is the time of year when breeders should be looking at the body condition of the ewes intended for breeding "because it can take 6-12 weeks to get the condition score" to the optimum level before mating, depending on quality of grass available.
Shane Randles from Sheep Ireland outlined the objective and expected performance benefits from ranking of the breeding flock and careful selection of ewes and rams for breeding, while Cara Sheridan from MSD Animal Health spoke on disease control measures and vaccines, and Frank Burke from Ashgrove Meats outlined the market requirements.
The attendance at the DAFM-approved knowledge transfer event, run in conjunction with Teagasc, included Irish Texel Society secretary Sinead Brophy, South West Texel Region chairman Michael Neenan and secretary Pat Landers, IFA deputy president Richard Kennedy, Munster IFA chairman John Coughlan, former IFA president John Dillon, and Limerick IFA chairman Aidan Gleeson.