Lambing off to a smooth start bar one visit from a fox

Tom Staunton

Lambing 2019 is under way. It began with the Pedigree Bluefaced Leicester ewes on February 24.

I ran the Bluefaced Leicester ram (£5,500 Mullaghwee) with all the Bluefaced Leicester ewes naturally this year. In other years I used AI, but I took a break away from it this year.

I was used to these ewes lambing within a week with the AI, but they are slower this year with most of them lambing over the past few weeks. Hopefully, there will be a batch of good lambs for selling later on this year.

The beginning of lambing is never without its troubles with different surprises and problems occurring.

A fox paid a visit and killed a lamb in a field right beside the shed. Hopefully it stops at that. We've started putting some OrlDen fox repellent oil on the lambs going into this field and also put up an electric fence.

All the small problems can be frustrating but I feel it's important to take control of what can be controlled and deal with the other issues afterwards.

The weather has become much wetter of late but there is plenty of grass for the ewes and their lambs. The ewes should milk well off this grass which should mean that the lambs will grow well.

Milk is a trait which I always look to breed in my ewes as it translates to better growth rates and less problems.

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All the ewes were drenched with the new worm drench Moxodex. The reason I dosed with this is that I have dosed ewes around lambing the last two years and it has worked quite well with ewes much cleaner in the months following the dose.

Before I began dosing at this time, I used to have issues with dagging ewes four to six weeks after lambing, but this is not the case since I began dosing. I used Moxodex to change the type of wormer this season.

This should help reduce the worm burden for the lambs at grass. I will know later in the year how this worked.

The blackface ewes have kicked off also with both mule and blackface (Lanark type) lambs on the ground.

It's always an exciting time of the year to see what type of lambs are born to different rams. I used a few ram lambs off the £5,500 Mullaghwee that I kept for my own use and am very happy with them so far. Time will tell, but so far so good.

I am using management tags on blackface (Lanark type) lambs from different rams, so I can distinguish which rams are breeding what I'm looking for.

This will also help select replacements by matching the lambs to the ewes.

This is also done for the Pedigree Bluefaced Leicester lambs and these are weighed at birth also.

One aged ewe had triplets that weighed in at 6.8kg, 6.5kg and 6.4kg respectively, nearly 20kg of lambs.

I'd be happy if a single was that weight.

EID tagging

The topic of tagging and EID tagging has been highlighted again over the past few weeks.

It is an extra cost for the sheep farmer, but if benefits and a premium were paid for lambs sold this way it would make sense. The current situation doesn't make much sense and the extra cost has been forced upon all sheep farmers.

Marts have the option to use the equipment to read these tags.

However, it looks like the marts will not be using this technology.

Mart managers have questioned the advantages and practicalities for the sales venues in acting as a central point of recording from next June onwards.

But yet we are being told EID is being used as a tool to sell Irish lamb into new markets!

I think the EID should be used, or else go back to the conventional tags.

It will be interesting to see what happens over the coming months.

Tom Staunton farms in Tourmakeady, Co Mayo

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