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Tom Staunton: Phone app is keeping tabs on ewes and lambs' birth data

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File photo

File photo

File photo

Lambing is in full swing on our farm, with the Lanark Blackface ewes coming on stream with their Mule lambs and Lanark lambs. The next few weeks will be busy.

The weather is making life very difficult for everyone, whether they are feeding ewes outside, lambing outside or turning ewes out with their lambs.

The sheltered fields with good stone walls are appreciated these days by the sheep and myself as well.

These testing conditions really highlight the good ewes that mind their lambs, the ones with plenty of milk and the hardier ewes.

It also highlights the weak links in the flock - older thinner ewes and the poorer milkers.

If ewes have plenty of milk and lambs' bellies are full, they have a chance, but where ewes are lacking in the milk department, lambs struggle to thrive. Hopefully this won't last and good weather will come soon.

Our recording of the Bluefaced Leicesters and Lanark ewes and lambs is going well so far.

The Sheep Ireland phone app for Lambplus is very easy to use and records data for both ewes and lambs from birth.

It makes the whole job easier and can be done while waiting for a ewe to lamb.

It records the ewe's milking ability, mothering ability and how lively the lamb is at birth, plus birth weights as well as the health of the ewe and lambs. It also records mastitis, lamb deaths, lameness etc.

This will be useful information for us to use when selecting replacements and will help make breeding decisions.

Recording six-week weights, 10-week weights and other health issues throughout the year will give us facts, and we can see from year to year if we are improving or not.

We are quite happy with the Bluefaced Leicester lambs out of the new rams we bought last year. They seem to suit our ewes. It's early days to know for sure, but so far so good.

We should have enough silage to see out the lambing. I thought I had plenty of silage this year but feeding hoggets extra has used some of this which I hadn't accounted for earlier in the year.

Prolapse

We have had only one case of prolapse on the farm to date, a repeat case from last year.

We put a prolapse harness on the ewe and she is healthy since.

The rate of prolapse has declined dramatically on the farm over the past few years. We can't put a finger on why exactly, but we think feeding better-quality feed ingredients more consistently is playing a large role in keeping prolapse at bay.

I think we have more control over the feeding too since the majority of the ewes are indoors and can be fed more accurately.

Plenty of straw is being used at the moment and ewes are bedded with plenty of straw twice a week. Dominate liquid is a probiotic that I sprayed on the straw to prevent the build-up of infection.

We have managed to cross-foster most triplet lambs so far.

I have also had to foster a lamb from a ewe that lambed down with milk just on one side. I find it's very important to check ewes that they have milk on both sides.

It is very easy to get caught out by a ewe that had no problems before, lambs down with twins and the next thing one of the lambs is crying.

I hope the weather improves for all, which will make lambing and life easier for all.

Indo Farming