Scanning results reflect the weather in Donegal
Michael Duffy's flock scanning results are down - but are still very good by national standards
For the last three years, I have been reporting on the ups and downs of Michael Duffy's sheep farm at Kerrykeel on the Fanad Peninsula, 23 miles north of Letterkenny in Donegal.
The scanning results for the flock mated in 2016 are displayed in Tables 1 and 2 (right). The results for the ewe flock are not as good as in 2016 or recent years. Nevertheless, they are still very good scan rates by national flock standards and should deliver a weaning rate of 1.61 lambs per ewe.
Michael attributes the drop in scanning results to two factors: the very wet weather in September and a slight drop in body condition. I am inclined to agree with him.
We only had two dry days in September 2016. It was the wettest month of the year. This had a major effect on grass dry matter, grass utilisation and animal performance.
Teagasc research shows that a good scan rate or litter size is linked to good body condition scores (BCS) at mating. The target BCS at mating is 3.5. Michael also says his scanner pointed out that more of his ewes seem to be in lamb from the second heat cycle than from the first 17 days of mating. Again, this could be related to the wet September pre-mating.
Following scanning, Michael examined the scanning rate of the 10 thinnest ewes that he selected for extra feeding in mid-December and it was 1.6. His 16 'next thinnest group' at that time had a scanning rate of 1.7, while the remainder of his flock (excluding the 26 above) scanned 1.87. This demonstrates a correlation between BCS and scanning rate.
Table 2 shows the scan results for the ewe lamb flock. They scanned at 1.06, which was similar to the 1.05 in 2016. However, Michael pointed out: "I have too many barren ewe lambs this year and I am putting this down to the wet September in 2016 too."