Inspection highlighted importance of tagging and recording flock changes

John Large

John Large

We had a sheep inspection on April 30. This was the first time we had one.

We were informed of this 48 hours beforehand. One lot of ewes (100) and their lambs were penned up when the Department inspector arrived. He then checked that all the ewes were tagged and recorded numbers from a sample of the ewes.

Out of 100 ewes, he read about half of them. We then went out the fields and counted all the sheep as they were moved through the gate to the next field. Then it was back inside to do the paperwork.

The total number of sheep on my farm was compared to the number I had sent back on my census form. You are allowed a 3-5pc difference for sheep that are not accountable on the day of the inspection.

We did not need to use this as the numbers were compatible. He then checked that my movement dockets were all written up in the flock register book and checked off a number of them. Some were knackery dockets. Next up, he wanted to find the ewes' numbers in the flock register that he had read earlier in the pen. This was the slowest part of the job. It is very important to put in the tag numbers in block form.

For example, when you tag your replacements, put them in as a group from the lowest to the highest. It is a lot easier to find one number in a group rather than looking for an individual.

It all worked out well and the pressure was off. The Department inspector was fair, he came to our farm to do his job and he was satisfied.

The main points that I learned were:

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1. You must have your adult sheep tagged and recorded in your flock register.

2. You must have your movement dockets written into your flock register.

3. The number of sheep on your farm should correspond to the sheep census form that you send to the Department in December and January, or be able to show by your movement dockets how this number has changed.

4. There should be dockets showing when you send dead sheep to the knackery.

They already know a lot of information when they arrive on the farm. They know what tags you have purchased, where you sell your sheep, the number of sheep on your census form and which knackery you use.

All this information can be collected in the office from the computer, so they come to the farm to check your records with what they already know.

That's the first inspection passed. Next month, we have a Bord Bia quality assurance assessment. There's no rest for the wicked.

On the farm, we have dosed all the older lambs with a leviside-type drench during the first week of May. We dosed the last hogget lambs on May 21.

With the big change in the weather, all lambs will be monitored closely for any signs of scour, which could be caused by a late hatch of nematodirus. If this happens, all lambs will be dosed immediately.

We have put all ewes and lambs through the foot-bath twice. We are using zinc at 8pc and putting in some copper sulphate at 2pc to cure scald.

The next time the sheep are in the yard we will dag any dirty ewes to get them ready for their dose of Clik, which protects them against blowfly.

We sprayed off 15ac on May 3 and allowed the sheep to graze off any of the grass five days after spraying.

We sowed the grass seed about two weeks later using a direct seeder.

The mix is 4.5kg Tyrella, 3.5kg Cancan, 4kg Trend and 1kg clover with 1.5kg Typhon seed. These fields received 2t of lime and 2.5bags/ac of 18-6-12. The last job now is just to roll them off. We also cut some silage. Not a very heavy crop but with the weather so good we should get some good quality winter feed. These paddocks were last grazed in January.

John Large is a sheep farmer from Gortnahoe, Co Tipperary.

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