Farm Ireland

Thursday 18 January 2018

Sheep advice: Prevention key to a profitable farm

Stock photo
Stock photo

Tom Staunton

The glorious weather has allowed me to get many jobs done on the farm, including vaccinating, dosing and spraying. These tasks can help prevent many other problems and jobs down the line. Prevention is key for a more profitable farm.

Many of the problems occur year on year and if you know they are coming or potentially coming, then it's better to take preventative action.

Since the Department of Agriculture and media sources issued warnings about the Nematodirus worm, I have considered when to dose with a white drench.

I looked at the risk factors and the age of lambs and decided to dose all the batches of older lambs.

The plan is to dose the younger lambs in the next week as they begin to consume larger amounts of grass. Nematodirus is something I'm aware of but it's good to get a reminder or update on when the risk is highest.

For the first time in many years I dosed the ewes at turnout to grass for worms. So far I found the ewes are scouring less than other years and I'm happy with their condition and lamb growth.

All lambs have received their first shot of Heptavac-P plus. This is a practice I have carried out for a few years now. Again, it is a preventative action. If you were to lose a few lambs to a clostridial disease or to pasteurella pneumonia, the cost of vaccinating the lambs is more than well justified. The lambs will get the booster shot in four to five weeks' time.

As a member of the Mayo Mule and Greyface Group it is compulsory that we vaccinate all sheep for the sale. It is an initiative which is now in its second year. The group is always trying to improve the quality and health status of the sheep on sale.

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As part of the Sheep Welfare Scheme, one of the options I decided to choose was supplement with minerals and vitamins pre-weaning.

All lambs get a chelated mineral and vitamin drench along with the vaccine. The mineral and vitamins can help boost the immune system which will allow the vaccine to be more effective.

Supplementing in time to prevent deficiencies keeps the lambs thriving and also means they can be sold quicker at a lower cost.

A few cases of mastitis have cropped up in the past few weeks in ewes at grass, in different fields. It's not a major problem but it is something I would prefer didn't happen at all.

I'm not sure what causes it this time of year - it could be nutrition, chapping teats or a combination of some or all of the above. It is a nuisance where both the ewe and lambs suffer. Ewes are treated with antibiotics. In some cases, ewes make a full recovery but lamb growth may suffer.

Tom Staunton farms in Tourmakeady, Co Mayo

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