Farm Ireland

Tuesday 19 February 2019

'Good bacteria' will protect lambing sheds from disease


File photo
File photo

Tom Staunton

All the ewes on the farm have been prepared for breeding. They were dipped, fluke-dosed and supplemented with minerals and vitamins. This is one of the options I selected for the Sheep Welfare Scheme.

The ewes were also divided up into groups for each ram, with ram lambs getting bunches of about 30 ewes and older rams bunches of 50-60 ewes.

The Lanark ewe lambs for breeding won't go to the ram until well into November.

There was another divide, with ewes selected for either the Bluefaced Leicester rams or the Blackface (Lanark type) rams for breeding on farm replacements.

These bunches will be run with the rams over the next few months. It is an important time of year to be vigilant and make sure they are working correctly, that they aren't sick and running the risk of having a temperature which can make them infertile.

Once the ewes and rams are running together, they get very little disturbance.

I use a raddle on all rams as a tool to help me know if rams are working and are fertile. I use the powder and oil and brush it onto their chests. It's a bit more labour expensive than the crayons, but I get a closer inspection of the ram more often which helps to make sure he's healthy. I start off with a brighter colour, maybe yellow, and every two weeks I gradually select a darker colour, eg green followed by blue and red.

This is also very useful in the spring time in knowing when ewes are going to lamb and can be grouped and fed accordingly to the raddle mark after scanning.

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The pedigree Bluefaced Leicester ewes have been running with the rams for the past few weeks and been served naturally this year.

All breeding sales are over for us this year. The mule lamb trade was solid, perhaps not quite as strong as other years, but the clearances of sheep were good, with farmers coming to Ballinrobe from all over Ireland.

There were quite good sales for Bluefaced Leicester rams and Lanark rams and ewes considering it has been a tough year for breeding sheep.

The remaining wether lambs and Blackface ram lambs are on a final push for finishing. They are currently on the remainder of the Typhon, with the under-sown grass coming through well. These lambs are also being fed creep to help them reach better finishing weights and conformation.

Some of the lambs in the bunch are more than heavy enough to kill but need a while longer to have the right cover of flesh on them. I'd like to move them on as soon as I can to leave more grass for the ewes for the autumn and going into the winter months. Hopefully the price will hold up.

The focus now turns to breeding and other jobs such as cleaning sheds, some fencing etc.

All sheds will be power-washed, cleaned with a detergent and disinfectant and then sprayed with a probiotic to repopulate the sheds with 'good bacteria', a practice that has worked well for the past few years. Since I started lambing indoors, I find hygiene is critical.

We got some more silage bales made in the past few weeks. I hope this should cover our requirements for the winter and spring.

Tom Staunton farms in Tourmakeady, Co Mayo

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