Our rate of barren ewes from AI is still way too high
Ewes at Lyons were shorn on January 13 and they are still housed. This is a well established part of our winter housing routine and gives an increase in lamb birth weight of approximately 0.5kg per lamb.
When ewes are housed their pregnancy is actually shortened by around two days due to the altered environment. However when we shear these housed ewes, their pregnancy returns to its normal duration. This is largely responsible for the increase in lamb birth weight, but increased intake is also observed.
At a very practical level it allows for about 20pc more sheep to be housed in the same area, provided feed space allows. It's important to bear in mind that a minimum of eight weeks wool re-growth is required prior to turn out, so once you commit to shearing you are committing to a two month housing period.
Ewes were scanned here on January 5. We recorded an increase in litter size from last year with an overall scanned litter size of 1.75. This is still well below our target on 2.1 but is an increase of 0.1 on last year's levels.
Disappointingly we are still seeing a low conception rate to AI of only 73pc.
Consistent with previous years, our barren rate is still way too high at 7pc. This is an issue which has occurred here since the AI programme began. The majority of the ewes that are barren did not repeat.
It's a familiar issue - the so-called 'deep-end anoestrus', whereby a ewe that fails to conceive to the AI service subsequently stops cycling.
If we were to extend our breeding season we would most likely pick up these ewes after 10-12 weeks, but we do not want to extend lambing to that extent.