John Fagan: I'm going to have to get more ruthless about culling the older ewes
Lambing is now drawing to a close and it was a pretty success-free and easy lambing season for me. It wasn't without it problems, mistakes made, lessons learned, but a walk in the park compared to last year.
The weather makes all the difference with lambing and when you can get away with lambing outside and get to turn out ewes and lambs quickly then sheep farming is a breeze.
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A few things I've noted this year is that I'll have to be a bit more ruthless when it comes to culling older ewes as generally these are the ones that cause the most problems.
You need to keep the flock young and a 20-25pc culling rate is something you need to adhere to.
The devastation of spring 2018 left me with a lot of ewes that picked up mastitis and I had to cull a lot of sheep that probably had a few more years in them. In hindsight, that is what made me hold on to a few more older ewes than I should have.
Mastitis and prolapse are hard to detect in some ewes and I've found that notching a sheep's ear to indicate that she should not be kept in the flock is an effective way of making sure that they don't stay.
With regard to prolapse in ewes, it will definitely happen again so even though the ewe might seem fine she'll give you the same torture next year. You don't need a computer or an electronic tag to tell you this.
A simple notch on her ear will remind you next August or September than she has to go, marking her is a waste of time as it will either wash off or when they are shorn you won't know she had a problem and you end up keeping her.