Sheep Tech: Bitter conditions adding to the strain of lambing season
The bulk of Michael Duffy's flock remains backed up in the sheep shed on his Donegal farm
Published 08/04/2015 | 02:30
This time last year, Michael Duffy encountered a number of issues including: silage quality; loss of body condition (BCS) in ewes pre-lambing; and an abortion issue that the regional veterinary laboratory (RVL) in Sligo could not definitively diagnose.
Michael addressed these challenges by taking steps that included:
• Silage DMD improved from 68 to 73 and 74DMD by cutting earlier;
• All ewes were vaccinated against enzootic abortion and all the replacements (home-bred ewe lambs and bought-in hoggets) were vaccinated against toxoplasma abortion;
• Michael had a feed budget of 42kg of meal/ewe for 2015. This was comprised of 29kg meal pre-lambing, which was an increase of 5-6kg per ewe on 2014. He also budgeted feeding 13kg per ewe to the flock from the start of lambing to turnout. Lambing is spread over four weeks and, without this extra supplement, the later lambing ewes are on meal for longer than the first lambing ewes.
At outlined in the January report, ewe BCS was beginning to slip at scanning. Michael gave ozyclosanide (as Zanil) to two pens of ewes, but it failed to generate any response in ewe BCS. The increased meal feeding did not seem to be addressing the BCS issue, so feed levels to those carrying twins were increased further, but ewes lambed down with BCS of not more than 2.75.
Abortion also reared its ugly head 10 days before lambing was due to begin, with 12 ewes aborting during this period and a number of lambs were sent to Sligo RVL.
The lab detected both toxoplasma and campylobacter in the foetal remains.