Keep an eye out for chills

James Murphy

Sheep have probably survived this inclement weather better than other livestock enterprises, but farmers still need to be vigilant in order to maintain the daily liveweight gains in the lambs. Some farmers have lost lambs younger than five days old during the worst of the weather. This highlights the importance of common sense when bad days and nights hit - you need to make sure that lambs have some kind of shelter in the form of a ditch for those nights.

There have also been reports of increased incidences of grass tetany deaths so the provision of high magnesium licks would be advisable in many situations.

Farmers also need to keep an eye out for chills or pneumonia affecting stock, including rams which are often run down at this time of the year and can be prone to the cold.

Stretching out the rotation by going into silage ground or buffer feeding some hay or silage in a round feeder in the fields will help in cases where the grass wedge is running out. Farmers shouldn't resort to feeding expensive meals to ewes but some creep for the lambs, especially to encourage them into the next field in the grazing rotation ahead of the ewes, may help on farms that are badly stuck for grass.

James Murphy is the sheep chairman for the IFA

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