When the weather is dry and warm, lambs thrive well - and this is definitely the case this year as our average daily gain for all the lambs is just shy of 300g per day.
The downside is that with very little rain for the last month or more, grass growth is slow, not helped by the harsh winds and a few frosty nights last week. We are getting tight for grass, but by letting the lambs creep-graze ahead we are able to hold up the ewes for an extra couple of days and get a good clean-out of paddocks.
With not much rain forecast for another week, we may have to think about starting to feed the oldest of the lambs. Having said that, with fertiliser out and a few kind damp days, the grass situation could turn around quickly.
At this time of the year, it is important to keep lambs thriving. Good grass is essential but you also have to keep lameness to the minimal by foot-bathing lambs and ewes every two weeks.
We have a good few scalds in April-born lambs and they need to get a good soak in the foot-bath this week.
Worms can be another problem, but with the right approach, these can be controlled. Grazing sheep are naturally exposed to stomach and gut worms which can cause disease including scour and ill-thrift. They will develop immunity over time, usually having good immunity by a year old.
Despite the large number of wormers on the market, there are only five groups of wormer for the control of gut-worm in sheep. These are commonly known as white wormer (Benzimidazole), yellow wormer (Levamisole), clear wormer (Macrocyclic lactones), and the two latest arrivals, orange and purple wormers. These two are veterinary prescription-only medicines.
On some farms, ours included, worms are developing resistance to the wormers we use. This is known as anthelmintic resistance, and over-use can be a factor. It is important that wormers are used appropriately.
Steps you can take to slow down the development of resistance on your farm include:
We follow a simple procedure when collecting the faecal sample: stand lambs on a clean surface usually in the crush for about an hour, then collect the droppings left behind.
It is important that it is a fresh sample and from lambs only, not from ewes or older sheep.
We put the sample into a plastic tub and deliver to the vet.
If you are posting samples to a laboratory, send them early in the week to avoid letting them sit in a post box over the weekend, which could cause the eggs to hatch and leave the sample useless.
Our lambs are due their second shot of Heptivac P; next week will be four weeks since they got the initial injection.
We find there is no point in thinking one shot will do - they definitely have to get a second one to boost their immunity.
It's expensive at nearly €2 per lamb but on our farm it is well worth the cost.