Great grass has cut out all meals
The first lot of lambing is now over. Conception rate to AI was disappointing since it was a lot lower than last year at about 60pc. Our scan results showed a lot of repeat ewes so we were not over surprised. However, lambing went well with mortality at less than 10pc. We also had plenty of singles to help foster the triplet lambs. We have only two ewes out yet rearing triplets.
All lambed ewes are out on grass only. There is so much grass available that we are not feeding meal to any. The weather is also excellent for utilisation and we only move ewes with lambs when all the grass is well eaten. No problems with muck in gateways or around hedges. We spread a half bag of urea in mid February and the growth response has been excellent.
In fact, we have so much grass that the late (second repeats) were let out and may even be lambed outside. We took all the singles and the oldest group of twins to the out-farm last week. All ewes and lambs have access to mineral buckets. We use a Zintec "three in one" bucket which covers grass teteny in ewes and orf and coccidosis in lambs. Since we started to use these buckets, we have not vaccinated any sheep for orf and have seen a big improvement in coccidosis.
We have also tried to get better at grassland management, especially in April, in relation to disease control. We find that if we graze very tight at this time it can put the lambs under pressure and give the coccidia a better environment to thrive.
Our main problem in lambs this year has been joint-ill. We are finding lambs less than a week old with swelling on one or more joints. We have had almost 15 cases so far. The best for treatment is a long course of antibiotic injections each day for a week.
To do this they have to be brought back to the shed, as it is not possible to catch them outside after the first few treatments. They improve well if caught early enough but if you do not continue the treatment they go lame again within a week.
The repeat ewes are starting to lamb now as are the ewe-lambs (hoggets). With no vaccine available for enzootic abortion, all the ewe-lambs were given two injections of long-acting oxytet. The first one is given at 105 days after the ram was introduced, while the second one is given after 130 days. I do not yet know how effective this will be but I would be very interested to know what other farmers are doing.
We out-wintered the hoggets carrying singles on grass only because we knew that they would be late lambing. Going by the size of their lambs, I could have been a bit more restrictive on the amount of grass.