Preparation pays dividends
Over the next few weeks many of the sheep flocks across the country will start lambing where this has not already happened.
From a labour point of view, lambing comes at a very busy time on most farms. So what steps can be taken to make the job a little easier? We often hear people in other sectors talking about improving productivity and sheep farmers should be no different.
When I started as an adviser at Teagasc, a senior adviser told me that every bit of advice I gave should do either one of two things: increase profits and/or save labour. When preparing for the impending lambing season these criteria should be borne in mind when planning changes to your system.
Your aim should be to have everything set up so that routine tasks can be carried out as efficiently and quickly as possible, while at the same time not compromising on animal care or performance.
The first step in your preparation is to sort out the lambing area. Where will lambing be taking place? Will it be indoors or outdoors?
Outdoor lambing works well if there is plenty of grass and shelter in the field. In the run-up to lambing, ewes can be fed supplementary concentrates.
However, once lambing starts, meal feeding can result in mis-mothering as ewes will leave their newborn lambs to eat meals.
This means that you have to have enough grass to get the flock through lambing without having to go in with meals. The big benefit of outdoor lambing is that the ewes feed, bed and water themselves and all the shepherd has to worry about is the lambing process and care of the newborn lambs.