A good dosing can boost survival rates and lamb vigour

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Stock photo
John Large

John Large

Now that we are only five weeks away from lambing, the focus is on the end game. Now all the twin ewes are on .5kg of meal per day and those carrying triplets receive .75kg. We are feeding those with triplets twice a day.

When the quantity of meal goes over .5kg we split into two feeds per day. It is more work but we get to see that they are all eating and healthy. Any slow or shy feeders can be picked off and put together in the one pen.

We are feeding a loose mixed ration made up of 50pc whole oats, 20pc rolled barley, 15pc pulp nuts, 13pc soya bean meal and a bag of minerals. This gives us a ration with 15pc crude protein.

We will push this up to 19pc for the last three weeks before lambing by increasing the amount of soya bean meal. We will start to feed the singles after another week.

All ewes are getting very good silage. I have noticed that when the bale is well chopped they eat more. Any bales that show any signs of mould are fed to the cows.

Our next job is to vaccinate all ewes with Covexin 10. This will be done next week.

Regular vaccination of your flock throughout the year is a very important part of management. It is even more vital in the period prior to lambing.

It is crucial for ewes producing colostrum to pass on immunity to newborn lambs. Vaccinating the ewe four to six weeks before lambing not only boosts her own immunity, it also increases the concentration of protective antibodies in the ewe's colostrum and these pass to the lambs when it sucks.

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This gives the young lambs the protection they need against clostridial disease until they can be vaccinated themselves.

These vaccines in sheep work very well and are cost-effective. They can decrease the number of lambs lost in the first six weeks of life.

Protecting your next crop of lambs starts well before they are born by ensuring boosters are given pre-lambing.

There is nothing more disappointing than finding a lamb four weeks old dead in a field of good grass.

We will also give a mineral dose to all ewes the same day as they are being vaccinated. We will use Twin Plus from Natural Nutrition as we have for the last few years.

This mineral dose is high in selenium and vitamin E, two nutrients that play a vital in both the health of the ewe and the lamb before and after birth.

Deficiencies in selenium and vitamin E can lead to lung or skeletal problems prior to birth and can contribute to abortions, stillbirth and weak lambs at birth.

The ewe can have problems too and may suffer from a depressed immune system which can leave her at risk of uterine infections. This mineral dose provides an improvement in lamb vigour and survival rates at birth.

Whether or not to dose ewes for worms before lambing is the next decision to be made.

The evidence is that the immunity of adult ewes wanes at lambing time. Normal practice is to treat the whole flock, but if you do, this will increase the potential of anthelmintic resistance.

The recommendation is not to treat the fittest 10pc of ewes with twins and most of those with singles as they are most likely to maintain immunity.

We will possibly dose all the two year ewes and any other thin ones irrespective of the number of lambs they are carrying.

We have spread slurry on two fields that were dry enough to travel and hadn't much grass on them. We will spread urea, once the ground dries up, on all the fields closed early.

John Large farms at Gortnahoe, Co Tipperary

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