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Independent.ie

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Ewes dagged to prevent udders getting scald in heat

Tom Staunton

The recent weather and grass growth has allowed me to stop feeding a large proportion of the ewes. I hope to have all the ewes off feed within the coming weeks.

Ewes have also been dagged to help prevent udders getting scald during the warm weather. Creep feeders have been introduced to the purebred lambs, twin lambs and also to the Beltex cross lambs.

The Scotch Blackface lambs will not receive any feed and may not be fed unless it is necessary. I have opted for a high energy course ration this year, with 16pc CP and an energy value of over 12 MJ ME/Kg. I am a believer in a high energy diet to achieve good growth rates.

It is difficult to have a cost-effective ration, which has a good energy value and feed mills do not publish energy values for their mixes. I decided to get my own ration produced with some help from my son as I now know the exact energy value, crude protein and other feed values of the ration.

This leaves no grey area. I have begun to dose lambs for Nematodirus. An increase in temperatures following a colder spell of weather has given Nematodirus eggs an opportunity to hatch into larvae. Lambs are beginning to consume large quantities of grass and there is a risk lambs will consume the parasite.

Watery

A watery yellow-green scour and lambs that aren't thriving that well is a good indicator of Newmatodirus being present. I usually don't let lambs get to this stage.

If Nematodirus is given the opportunity, it will effect lamb thrive and ultimately it will take lambs longer to be finished.

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Recently, I have noticed a few cases of scald in lambs. I like to keep on top off this and I bring batches of ewes and lambs in on a regular basis for treatment with antibiotic foot sprays.

It is frustrating to see lame lambs and I am a firm believer that lambs that are lame will not thrive. Last week I dosed all lambs with a chelated mineral dose.

This dose has chelated trace elements and vitamins and has high levels of zinc. I found that this form of mineral dosing is quite a good help in a preventative manner.

I think it is important before any dosing is carried out that testing is carried out on the grass the sheep are eating to determine what minerals and at what level they are needed.

I had grass analysis carried out last year and low levels of trace elements showed up. High levels of antagonist minerals, such as molybdenum and aluminium were also present.

I found this information very useful as I often wondered what amount and what type of trace elements that were needed for the farm. Testing has allowed me to target dosing more according to weight.

I weighed the pedigree Bluefaced Leicester lambs for Lambplus recording. I was quite happy with the growth rates of lambs. The single lambs are growing on average between 400-470g/hd/day.

The twin lambs between 350-410g/hd/day and the triplets and quadruplets 320-370g/hd/day. I expect this rate to reduce after weaning.

I have a target for all my mule ewe lambs to be a minimum of 45kg at sale time at the end of August.

This will enable lambs to breed in their first year. For this to be achieved, assuming on average a 5kg birth weight and an average date of birth of February 22, lambs will have to grow 250g/hd/day from birth to sale time to achieve this.

The target I set the Beltex cross lambs and lambs destined for the factory is to grow as quickly as possible.

To do this I try to give them every chance I can by using a 'total' approach, where nothing is left to chance. The lambs feed, water, minerals, parasite challenges etc is taken into account and acted upon to be as efficient as possible.

Tom Staunton, Mask View flock, Tourmakeady, Co Mayo

Indo Farming