Condition scores slip despite the kind autumn

Lambing is just four weeks away. Photo: Getty Images.
Lambing is just four weeks away. Photo: Getty Images.
John Large

John Large

With lambing just four weeks away, all our ewes have to get their injection of Covexin 10 this week. This will cover them against the clostridial diseases and give some antibodies to the lambs.

These antibodies will cover the lambs for the first month of life. After that they need to be vaccinated twice with about four weeks between each injection. This should see them out until they are slaughtered or retained for breeding.

We will give a mineral dose to the ewes when we are vaccinating them. We will use Twin Plus at a rate of 20ml per ewe. We are thinking of giving all the ewes a long-acting dose against worms. The reason for this is to keep the worm burden low by clearing out the ewes at lambing time when their resistance to worms is at its lowest. It should also keep the worm level low on the grass, which should hold off having to dose lambs as often.

We now have to decide which product to use and when we give the dose. It will most likely be in injection form, which we could give when the ewe has lambed and is in her individual pen. This way we would get the full value from the dose when the ewe is at grass. The other way would be to inject all the ewes when we have them out for their clostridial vaccine.

We condition scored the ewes on January 11. From the results our ewes have lost 0.3 of a score since they were last checked on October 17. I would have hoped that after the good autumn grass growth and dry weather they would be as good or even better. They probably lost some condition in the last two weeks before housing.


We started to feed the triplets after scanning on December 30. Once we had them all condition scored we started to feed all the twins as we did not want them to loose any more weight.

Now we are feeding everything except two pens of the strongest singles. The triplets are getting 0.75kg and are fed twice daily. The twins are on 0.5kg and singles 0.3kg. Both lots are being fed once per day.

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We are feeding a coarse ration made up of rolled barley, whole oats, maize gluten, soya hulls, soya bean meal, distillers and molasses. This has a crude protein of 17pc. We will move this up to 19pc from next week as the ewes requirement for protein increases in the last three weeks of pregnancy. The quality of the protein is also very important and at least half of the protein source should come from soya bean meal.

With the weather so wet and no sign of an improvement, fertiliser and slurry spreading are on hold for at least a few more weeks.

When the weather does improve we will spread a bag of nitrogen or a half bag of urea on all the fields, with additional slurry on the fields with the least amount of grass.

We have plenty to do before lambing – get all the lambing equipment ready, put up about 100 small pens and get water and individual feeding troughs organised for each pen.

We are down to the last 50 hoggets which are being fed the same meal as the ewes mixed 50/50 with whole barley.

They are doing well but the price has really been a big disappointment.

Since early December we have never got near €5/kg, which is where we should be at least.

Unless there is a big improvement the store men will not be happy. Worse still, they may not be there at all next year.

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

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