Sheep farmers are being asked to help discover why the mean number of lambs reared per ewe has not improved in the past 30 years.
Data from the National Farm Survey shows that the mean number of lambs reared per ewe joined is 1.3 and has not improved in the past 30 years.
Increasing the number of lambs reared per ewe joined is the main factor influencing the profitability of grass based systems of prime lamb production. As ewe productivity improves, the incidence of triplets and larger litters increase. For example, flocks with mean litter sizes of 1.8, 2.0 and 2.2 the incidence of triplets is expected to be 8%, 15% and 25% respectively.
Consequently an issue that faces producers with prolific flocks is what to do with triplets. In some flocks triplets are reared by their dams and managed as a separate flock. Other producers remove one lamb from each set of triplets and is either cross-fostered to single-bearing ewes, sold for cross-fostering, or artificially reared.
Now Teagasc (Dr Tim Keady); SRUC and University of Edinburgh (Prof Cathy Dwyer, Cathrine Erichsen); and AgResearch (New Zealand- Dr Sue McCoard) are determining farmer attitudes to, and management practices associated with, triplet bearing ewes during pregnancy and post lambing to weaning.
The are looking forr sheep farmers to participate in the survey, which is anonymous can be completed online:https://edinburgh.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/triplet-lamb-survey