Farm Ireland

Wednesday 23 January 2019

No 'handy fix' for mastitits, but signs we've turned corner

Teagasc advisor Terry Carroll
Teagasc advisor Terry Carroll

Mastitis is proving a problem out on sheep farms but there is no 'handy fix', writes Kilkenny-based Teagasc advisor Terry Carroll (pictured).

After the unprecedented conditions this week we are hoping that we've turned a corner.

Many farmers are reporting increased incidents of mastitis this year.

The views differ on the cause with some farmers feeling the lambs may be that bit hungrier this year and as a result are feeding harder and damaging the teats of the ewes.

Some feel it could also be due to the dirtier conditions in the fields due to the heavy rainfall.

There may also be an element of the younger ewes not milking as well due to the colder weather.

You would hope with the better weather and milder temperatures it should abate.

Tetany cases have also been popping up, and stress can bring that on.

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Farmers will need to watch when the grass starts growing as the magnesium tends to be diluted in the lush swards.

Also, after the cold spell the fast growing grass can increase the risk.

Many people are still feeding ewes - around half a kilo of meal morning and evening on many farms.

Over the last six weeks around 30-40kg of meal per ewe has been fed. However, this meal will also help safeguard against tetany as well due to the magnesium in the rations.

However, with the grass growing farmers will be taking the ewes off of the meal and at that point mineral buckets will be needed. Joint Ill has also been a bit more prevalent in lambs.

There is no doubt but that nematodirus will be a big problem with the heat arriving after the wet weather. Most farmers will need to worm lambs in the coming days.

Now is the time to ensure that fertiliser is out so the nitrogen, Ps and Ks are in the ground as there is a lot of time to make up for.

Farmers need to use the next month or two to grow that grass, plus the extra fodder for the winter.

There is no point in holding off until next July and August, now is the time to make the grass grow.

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