Sheep: Vaccinations and vitamins for the ewes is our next priority
Published 10/02/2016 | 02:30
There are only four weeks left before lambing starts so the next big job is to give the Covexin 10 booster injection to all the ewes due to lamb during the first two weeks in March.
This vaccine is very important on two fronts, it boosts the ewes own immunity to cover her for the next 12 months and it allows the new born lambs to get antibodies from the ewes colostrum.
This is the lambs only chance to get some cover against clostridial disease. These antibodies will give them cover for the first few months and after that they may need to be put into their own vaccination programme which would entail giving them two injections four weeks apart.
When we are vaccinating the ewes we will also give them 15ml of a mineral/vitamin dose - this will be Twin Plus from Natural Stockcare. We find this dose gives us more lively lambs at birth, that get up quickly and mostly suck by themselves. This helps to reduce the labour requirement needed at lambing time.
We are feeding all the ewes with triplets being fed twice daily getting .7kg and twins on .5kg, with singles only started to feed this week getting .25kg.
The meal is a mix of rolled and whole barley with soya hulls and soya bean meal. The barley and soya hulls are good high quality energy ingredients and the protein comes from the soya bean.
Protein is important in the last month of pregnancy. Our ration will be 19pc CP with triplets pushed up to 1kg, twins to .75kg and singles .4kg before lambing.
All ewes have been put through the footbath regularly since housing. The lame ewes are picked off and put into one pen when returned to the shed. This way we can concentrate on this group by letting them into the footbath every few days and after these extra treatments, most improve.
With ewe turn-out not that far away, our thoughts turn to spreading some fertiliser to push on grass covers. When ground conditions improve we will spread a half bag of Urea on about half of the home farm.
After the mild winter we have good grass on fields closed since early November and we will give these a light grazing first, then spread fertiliser. We also have some cattle slurry to spread on the fields closed last in December.
We plan to feed ewes meal for three weeks after lambing. Only if we get very good weather at lambing will this plan change. Meal will be fed in nut form at the rate of .4kg per ewe.
We have not scanned our ewe lambs or late repeat ewes yet. They are still away on rented grass and should be home next week.
When scanned, the ewe-lambs carrying twins will be picked off and started on meal outside with access to good round-bale silage.
The singles and empties will run on a field of fodder beet-tops which was only harvested in mid-January and they will also have plenty of lost beet available as well.
The number of hoggets is down to less than 100. They have done well in the last month and have most of the rape eaten - there is only about two weeks left and by then all will be sold.
The kill-out percentage from these lambs has been very good at 48pc of their live weight. Giving them meal on the fodder crop also speeds up kill date, but you would want to go through them regularly and pick off the ones fit for slaughter or else you could end up with hoggets getting over-fat very quickly.
With the price creeping up every week let's hope there will be an early clear out of hoggets to give the new crop of lambs a good start price-wise.
Meanwhile, with the ground so wet there is not much hope of tidying up a few fallen trees or fixing up some fences, but if we could get a fine dry week this could change quickly.
John Large is sheep farmer based in Co Tipperary