Sligo sheep farmer with over 450 ewes on coping through a challenging spring
Early treatment of lame ewes has paid off
Lambing commenced on the Higgins farm on March 1 and was compact for the mature ewe flock with 85pc lambing down to the first cycle.
Ewe-lambs began lambing from March 17 with 90pc lambed by the end of April. Using the Beltex ram on the ewe-lambs did not create additional lambing problems, according to Philip, who farms a mixed enterprise of suckler cows and sheep in Skreen, Co Sligo.
The sheep enterprise consists of 316 commercial ewes, 29 pedigree Texels and 115 ewe lambs put to the ram on the October 9, 2017. The flock size has steadily increased from 200 ewes in 2012.
If anything he had a high percentage of small lambs around 3kg at birth. Twelve sheep aborted due to toxoplasmosis prior to lambing which equates to 3pc of the flock. Philip estimates lamb losses to be around 10pc at this stage from scanning to turnout.
Problems that arose last year, such as joint ill in lambs and lameness in ewes, thankfully did not materialise this year apart from a few cases.
"I put a huge effort into early treatment of lame ewes, ensuring ewes were in good condition at lambing and hygiene in the sheds was good around lambing time. It appears to have thus far paid off," says Philip.
"Ten percent of last year's lamb crop died due to an outbreak of joint ill. This year in the week prior to the commencement of lambing, I changed the ewes from a leafy high quality pit silage to higher dry matter silage which in my opinion left the plastic slats a lot cleaner at lambing than they were last year."
All lambing pens were cleaned and disinfected with an antibacterial powder after each ewe, the powder was also spread on the slats daily. This year weak lambs and non-sucking lambs at birth were stomach tubed with ewe colostrum unlike the use of cow colostrum in previous years.