Think sheep are stupid? Think again

Agridirect.ie discusses the intelligence of sheep. In this piece, we argue that Ireland’s most populous farm animal is far smarter than we give it credit for.

A stupid insult

Nowadays, sheep are a byword for stupidity. To call someone a sheep is to imply that they are weak, unintelligent, and easily led. In many of those pointless arguments in Facebook comments sections, the term “sheeple” is trotted out as a derogatory swipe at someone’s intellect. I roll my eyes whenever I come across this word. To believe oneself enlightened beyond the rest of the human “flock” is the trait of the fatally ignorant. Though the user may think himself very witty, the “sheeple” portmanteau is hackneyed and lazy. Ironically, the keyboard warrior wielding it betrays the very lack of originality and individuality that he seeks to criticise in others.

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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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Paddock Grazing Sheep: is it worth the effort?

Sheep on paddock 001Grass growth has taken off, but will farmers put their grass to good use? Guest author Adrian Graham, a student of Sustainable Agriculture at Dundalk IT, tells Agridirect.ie why paddock grazing can be very beneficial on a sheep enterprise, and explains how to go about it!

Rotational paddock grazing: what are the benefits?

Good grass management is one of the main driving factors in levels of profitably on Irish farms but the question is: is it practical and worthwhile on a lowland sheep enterprise? Continue reading “Paddock Grazing Sheep: is it worth the effort?”

The sheep farmer’s scourge – blowfly strike and how to prevent it

Blowfly Strike 001

Agridirect offers some advice on the prevention and treatment of blowfly strike in sheep.

There is an old saying that a wet and windy May fills the barn with corn and hay. If that’s the case, there’s hope for a summer at the end of what has been, so far, a dismal month. Two nights of frost at the beginning of the month, and windswept days of wintry showers, have stunted any growth we hoped to get over the last few days. And the forecast for the next week makes for grim reading. Temperatures in the low to mid teens, and heavy showers, are about all we can expect.

Still, the last few days have seen a rise in temperatures. While early May offered up daytime highs of 9 and 10 degrees, we now face the prospect of warm rain over the coming weeks. For sheep farmers, this amounts to a period of increased risk. There is no doubt that there has been an explosion in insect life on Irish farms as the colder conditions have, finally, started to make way. At times like these, we have to keep an eye out for the blowfly. Most of us will sharpen our shears in June, but it may be no harm to start thinking about the best preventative measures and treatments for maggots. Continue reading “The sheep farmer’s scourge – blowfly strike and how to prevent it”

Keeping Surplus Lambs – Is it worth the Hassle?

Surplus lambs blog

Keeping surplus lambs -Is it worth the Hassle?

With lambing in full swing for a lot of farmers the question that faces many is what to do with surplus or orphaned lambs. Do you sell them on for whatever you can get or do you rear them yourself? Studies undertaken by Teagasc and others have shown that lambs you rear can leave profit of between €16 and €50 behind. But to do so you have to look at it as another enterprise and not just as keeping pets for the kids. Continue reading “Keeping Surplus Lambs – Is it worth the Hassle?”

Pre Tupping Time

Pre tupping blog

It’s coming to that time of year again when sheep farmers are thinking about the mating season for their flocks. Most people are looking to the future lambing period and thinking about getting the timing right so they’re lambing at a time that suits. They’re considering how long or short a lambing period they are aiming for, what market they want to have lambs ready for and whether they are going to lamb indoors or out. While all these are important things to think about, there is an air of “counting your chickens before they hatch” about it. I used to be one of these sheep farmers, thinking solely about letting the ram out based on when I could be confident of having grass for the lambs when born. I knew that the ewes had to be in good order at tupping but as long as they had grass in front of them from three weeks out for flushing, I was happy enough to throw the ram in and let nature take care of the rest. However this attitude eventually caught up with me. Continue reading “Pre Tupping Time”

Blowfly Strike – Be prepared

blowfly blog

It’s that time of year again where sheep farmers around the country are facing into battle with the dreaded blowfly. Blowflies are the most widespread external parasite affecting sheep in the UK and Ireland. If not properly controlled, sheep farmers can be left facing serious welfare and productivity issues, including loss of condition, reduced wool clip and leather quality, disease transmission and death. Continue reading “Blowfly Strike – Be prepared”