Wednesday 6 May 2015

'Maybe we should shear all small lambs in the autumn with the ewe lambs to help them grow'

Published 30/01/2013 | 06:00

All ewes were scanned on January 3. We have a higher conception rate in the ewes that were put in lamb using AI than we had last year, up from 65pc to over 80pc.

But our barren rate is still too high at nearly 6pc from 600 mated. We left these back to the ram for the month of January to see if we could get some of them in lamb.

I know they will be late but with the price of cull ewes back by €25 per head I reckon it is worth a try.

They will be scanned at the end of February and any empty ones will be sold.

Our overall scan results are 96 with triplets (16pc), 291 with twins (48pc), 178 with singles (30pc) and 35 empty (6pc). This gives us a scan of 1.75 lambs per ewe to the ram.

The ewes carrying triplets are getting meal since they were scanned and all twins have been fed since January 14.

The triplets are getting 0.5kg and the twins are on 0.3kg. The meal is a mix of barley, soya hulls and beet pulp nuts. All the ewes were on good silage since they were first housed. But since the scanning we have changed to hay which is of a lower quality and hence we are feeding all the twins meal a little bit earlier than normal.

Poor quality hay or silage is expensive to supplement, especially this year with the meal up almost €100/t on last year.

We purchased barley at harvest time but will not have enough for this spring, so we are going to buy in a ewe nut with a high energy and protein content.

All ewes were dosed again for fluke with Ridafluke after they were inside for about two weeks. This product kills all fluke over four weeks old so that's one job finished.


The only problem is that the amount per 80kg ewe is 30ml, so you have to take your time to allow the ewe a chance to swallow it all.

I was surprised that the product could not be made more concentrated to minimise the amount required.

We've had a persistent pink eye problem in the ewes since housing, which we are only now getting over. Some ewes seem to cure by themselves, while more need to get an injection of antibiotic.

Every time the ewes were out in the foot-bath we picked off any infected ones, injected them and left them all in the same pen, but a week later we had another group infected.

We probably treated 30 ewes altogether, but hopefully the hard frosts will clear it up now.

We still have some of last year's hoggets to sell.

It's not a nice position to be in with extra lambs in Britain dragging prices down.

For the first time in my memory lamb is down to the same price as beef. What hoggets are left are eating about 1.2kg of meal. This is made up of rolled and whole barley mixed with citrus and some soya bean.

They also have access to some very good quality silage. They are all outside except for the smallest 50 that we housed in December. They get as much meal as they can eat and a small amount of silage.

These lambs are on a good straw bed, which I think is very important as they eat some of it and they can get lame very quickly if their bed gets dirty. Surprisingly, they have grown well and put on good flesh.

We killed some last week at 41kg liveweight and 19kg deadweight, which was a kill out of 46pc. If I was going to feed lambs inside again I would shear them first.

Maybe we should shear all these small lambs in the autumn when we are shearing the ewe lambs to help them grow.

If only we could get a couple of dry weeks now to get the rest of the hoggets outside finished before lambing starts.

John Large is a sheep farmer from Gortnahoe, Co Tipperary. Email:

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