Focus now on limiting clostridial diseases
We've plenty of grass so, if we manage it right, we should have enough feed until late December. The field of grass we sowed on June 3 is now being grazed for the fourth time, and I started to close up paddocks on October 2 to allow grass to rest and build up for next spring.
All ewes, rams and ewe lambs were dipped on Saturday, September 25. Around this time every year we dip all sheep to be left on the farm for the winter. This covers against scab and lice. It is a big job but we find it worthwhile and it also helps to prevent ewes from going over on their backs.
Ewes are now all sponged. We put in the first 300 sponges on October 4 and 330 sponges on October 7. The sponges will be removed this weekend and ewes will be injected with 400 units of PMGS. This year we will remove sponges in two stages, at 7am and 12 noon. We keep the ewes in two separate groups for AI before and after lunch. When ewes are being sponged, we weigh them. The average weight for the mature ewes was 73kg and 65kg for hoggets. The heaviest ewe weighed 99kg and the lightest 53kg. All the ewes are on good grass and we will AI them two days after sponge removal. The rams will be raddled and left to pick up the 'repeat ewes' one week later.
The ewe lambs have not been weighed yet, but any fit for service will be put to the ram at the same time as repeat ewes. In an effort to get the ewe lambs to come in heat, two teaser rams will be introduced to them 14 days beforehand. Hopefully, this will get more of them to lamb in one month as the rams will be removed after two heat cycles or 34 days.
The rams are on their daily diet of grass and 1/2kg of meal, to help build them up for their two months work a year. Boy, do they have it handy.
We lost a few lambs on the forage rape. They were dosed for worms and had no sign of fluke as livers were all reported to be clean at slaughter. As these lambs were never vaccinated against clostridial diseases, that's my prime suspect. In order to protect the rest, they were all given 1ml of Covexin 10, which will be repeated after four weeks. Hopefully, this will cure the problem.
I recently went for my annual day out to the Ploughing Championships. Because I'm not a fan of traffic jams, I get there early and leave quickly.
Our minister's announcement on the new grant for mobile sheep-handling equipment and fencing is welcome. This should help to reduce labour by upgrading facilities on many sheep farms. My only purchase was a mineral bolus, consisting of copper, cobalt, selenium and iodine. These were given to 160 ewes, picked randomly, and then given a permanent mark. The idea is to see if these ewes perform better than the rest, giving a higher lambing percentage. The answer will be seen at scanning time.
All dung has been cleaned out of sheep sheds, and heaped in fields for spreading. This is not a laborious job as the sheds are all built so they can be cleaned out by a loader, with wide doors at each end and easily removable dividers. All floors are concrete and all water troughs can be easily removed. Now all we have to do is power-hose the walls and feed rails so they will be clean and disease-free for the coming winter.
John Large is a sheep farmer in Co Kilkenny
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