Disease control at the forefront of plans as we prepare for housing
As we reach the end of the grazing season, half of the ewes are on fodder beet tops, which should keep them happy until early December.
That is unless we get heavy rain, which can have a big effect on utilisation, as more of the tops are trampled into the wet clay. There is also a big difference between fodder beet tops and what we used to graze after sugar beet. The latter always had a good crown left with the leaves and that is where the real value for the sheep was to be found.
The remainder of the ewes are finishing up what grass is left on our farm. This will only keep them for another week or so.
The ewes will be housed by December 1. They will get round bale silage for the first month and then we should have enough hay for the remainder of the winter. We find it easier to keep the bedding dry when we feed hay with the meal in late pregnancy.
The rams will be removed from the ewes on December 1 and all ewes scanned the last days of December. That is when we will know how good our conception to AI has been.
We have put the ewes through the footbath twice in the last month. This will be repeated every week between now and housing. When we put the ewes in, any that are lame will be penned together and their feet individually checked. These will get a run out to the footbath every few days. I find that when they are penned separately it is easy to let them out to stand in zinc sulphate for half an hour while I am feeding the rest.
We will use hydrated lime along the feed rails, just spread before bedding with straw. A good effort to keep lameness at low levels will be a big help in later pregnancy, when an outbreak of foot rot could cause major problems with prolapse, twin lamb disease, ewes with poor milk supply and even ewes lying down on new born lambs.
There are high fluke levels everywhere in Ireland again this year. All our ewes were dosed in late October with Flukiver. We will dose at housing again with a different product that will kill all stages from two-week-old immature fluke to adult fluke.