Top sheep farmer on last lap of breeding season preparations
We are well into preparation for the breeding season. We plunge dipped all the ewes on the farm last week. We always plunge dip as we find that the ewes have a healthier skin and are healthier in general for the winter afterwards.
The ewes got their first fluke dose of the season. I used a closantel-based product and I will change to a different active ingredient for the next fluke dose.
Ewes received minerals and before they go to the ram they will get a mineral bucket too. I have graded the ewes into several batches to suit the rams. I have them split into groups for both the Bluefaced Leicester rams and the Lanark Blackface rams.
I always try to get these jobs done before the ram goes out. I don't like moving the ewes or gathering them too much when the ram is out. I feel it's better to just keep an eye on them from a distance and not disturb them. I am planning to breed more replacement ewes for the farm. I have always done so, but the last few years I haven't bred enough replacements. I'm going to use the "No Mate" harness this year just to try it out.
I will let the rams through the ewes for a few days. I will then take them up and hopefully this will help tighten the lambing period.
The Bluefaced Leicester ewes are being prepared for AI and embryo transfer with ProStar genetics. Later on in the year we will also AI the top Lanark ewes in the flock.
We have found that by doing this that we have improved the flock by bringing in some new blood. I have used a couple of different rams this time. I used straws from a very successful flock in the UK that is breeding both top-class Bluefaced Leicesters and Mules.
We haven't embryo transferred any ewes for years. The last time we did we had some success but the time before that it didn't work too well for us. We have two ewes in the flock that are breeding very well and these are being used for it. The embryos will be transferred into Mule ewe hoggets that we bought at the Mayo Mule and Greyface sale.