Wednesday 28 September 2016

Shearing on hold as we wait for summer to arrive

Tom Staunton

Published 10/06/2015 | 02:30

It is a busy time for sheep shearers
It is a busy time for sheep shearers

It is a busy time ahead for sheep shearers as the weather over the past few weeks has put a hold on shearing in some parts of the country.

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I was talking to a local shearer and he has 9,000 less sheep shorn this year compared to the same time last year.

My sons and I will start shearing the ewes in a few weeks' time. We will start with the Blackface ewe hoggetts, followed by the older ewes.

Usually when we have batches of ewes and lambs in for shearing we go through what ewes are performing and the ones that aren't and analyse whether they are worth keeping for another year or not.

Any ewes that have feet problems at the time will also be pared. The udders will also be checked and any ewes that were marked in the spring for selling will be re-marked.

We are also reseeding and draining some ground at the minute. This is something I plan to continue over the coming years. I think a reseeding programme is something that the farm could really benefit from.

I will include some white clover and rape into the reseeded ground. I plan to strip graze and fatten lambs off this during the summer months. There are many benefits of reseeding including increased productivity, extending grazing and the ability to have higher stocking rates just to name a few.

Higher stocking rates and higher ewe productivity is something I need to look at to improve overall profitability. Beginning the reseeding programme will give me scope to do this. I will look to sell more lambs or ewes by improving prolificacy, by losing less lambs at lambing and also to increase the value of lambs sold.

Vaccination

All the Mule ewe lambs and Pedigree Bluefaced Leicesters got their first shot of Heptavac P last week. This will be followed up by the booster shot in four weeks' time. I always buy the smaller bottles of Heptavac P as opposed to the larger ones as it is best to use a whole bottle within 24 hours. I vaccinate the lamb as an insurance policy and I think it is important when breeding stock are being sold that they are covered for all diseases possible.

One of the next jobs coming down the line is to either dip the lambs or treat them with a pour-on as a preventative against fly-strike. At this stage I'm moving towards using a pour-on.

After travelling to Burt, Co Donegal to see the All-Ireland Sheep Shearing competition, I've been marking out the shows that I'll be attending over the coming months.

Up next is Sheep 2015 held on Saturday, June 20, in Teagasc Athenry.

I'll be busy over the next week preparing Bluefaced Leicesters and Mules for the shows and stands at the event as part of the South of Ireland Bluefaced Leicester Club and Mayo Mule and Greyface Group.

Sheep 2015 looks set to be a great event for all who have interest in the sheep sector. However, we've also made plans to attend lots of other events including the National Livestock show in Tullamore.

Tom Staunton farms in Tourmakeady, Co Mayo.

tstaunton@ independent.ie

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