Ewe abortions: causes and prevention

Agridirect.ie discusses the causes of abortion in ewes and outlines some measures that farmers can take to mitigate risk.

Flock health post tupping

At this stage in the year, most ewes have already gone to the ram. After a successful tupping season (hopefully), our thoughts now turn to maintaining ewe health during the gestation period. Only ewes in peak physical condition are likely to birth strong, healthy lambs. Ewes in poor health are always liable to abort the foetus or fail to hold to the ram. Therefore, it is essential that we ensure the flock has access to plenty of high-quality feed, and that our animals’ diets are supplemented with vitamin and mineral drenches/boluses.

Preventing abortive disease

Even ewes in good physical condition can end up aborting lambs due to infectious disease. Small numbers of abortions among healthy animals may result from poor handling or in-fighting among sheep. However, if your flock has been hit by large numbers of ewe abortions in recent years, it is possible that you have a problem with enzootic abortion attributable to infection by Toxoplasma gondii or Campylobacter. It is estimated that these infections are responsible for up to 80 percent of later stage abortion in ewes.  

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Tupping season: knowing the right sheep breed for your farm

With tupping season just around the corner, farmers need to consider ram breeds carefully. Agridirect.ie looks at the pros and cons of the various breeds available to Irish farmers, and discusses some of the ways that farmers are maximising their output through genetic planning. 

Choosing the right breeding ram for your farm requires careful planning. It’s not simply a matter of walking into the nearest sheep sale, picking out a strong-looking ram and making a bid for him. If this is your approach, don’t be surprised if your neighbours are netting better prices than you are at selling time. There is huge variation in the physical traits of sheep breeds, and it is important to bear these in mind when selecting your ram. Before deciding on a breeding ram for their ewes, farmers should ask themselves what they want from their flock.  

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Mineral deficiency in ewes and how to avoid it

Agridirect.ie discusses sheep fertility and the importance of mineral supplementation against deficiency in the weeks before tupping season.

The science of fertility

Tupping season is only a few weeks away now. As I touched on in last week’s blog, late August and September is the time to focus on getting the breeding flock in tiptop shape before putting in the ram. Most sheep farmers will agree that this is an exact science.

While there are many factors that might negatively impact overall flock fertility at this crucial time of the year, mineral deficiencies will always be a key concern for sheep farmers. Obviously, ensuring that your ewes have access to good grazing as we move into September will be a crucial part of safeguarding against the various deficiencies that contribute to infertility. A malnourished ewe will always be deficient in key vitamins and minerals, so remember to get that body condition score up to a healthy 3 or 3.5 before putting her to the ram!

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Getting ready for tupping season

As August draws to a close, Agridirect.ie talks preparation for tupping season and offers sheep farmers some advice to help maximize results.

General flock health

It’s been another strange year in many ways, but some things don’t change. When August rolls around, sheep farmers inevitably look towards the autumn and think of the breeding season. While most of us will not put in the ram until October or November, we know that now is the time to start preparing the flock for tupping.

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Flock fertility: now is the time to invest

With breeding season now clearly on the horizon for many farmers, Agridirect.ie discusses the use of boluses to boost flock fertility.

Flock fertility: now is the time to invest!

While sheep farmers are enjoying high prices for finished lambs this year, past experience of buoyant finished lamb prices will prompt many to think that it won’t last forever and may not even last long. Of course, better prices are only what lamb producers deserve but now thoughts are swiftly turning towards breeding next year’s crop of lambs. No one can predict what next year’s prices will bring, but one way of driving profitability on any sheep farm is a high level of productivity, in particular a high number of lambs sold per ewe.

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