As the weather gets wetter, Agridirect.ie discusses the increased danger of fluke in sheep and offers some advice to farmers on the best treatments available on the market.
A Grim Forecast
The forecast for the foreseeable makes for grim reading. Of the seven days ahead, only one – Friday – is likely to bring as much as a ray sunshine. The rest of the week is set to be overcast, showery or downright torrential. For sheep farmers, this should be a concern. While the dip in temperature over the last couple of weeks has banished the threat of the blowfly, internal parasites remain a major problem. By now, the fluke parasite will have left the mud snail that hosts it during the summer months and migrated onto grass. Wet grassland, especially, will be full of fluke. If you can, you should keep animals off your wettest fields at this time of year, no matter how lush the grass.
Agridirect.ie discusses the threat of pneumonia in livestock during the winter months, and outlines the early symptoms to watch out for.
Winter is not far off now. Temperatures plummeted over the last couple of weeks, and some recent nights have had a distinctly wintry feel. Over the next month or so, we can expect conditions to deteriorate further, with increased rainfall and colder air sweeping across the country. On the farm, this seasonal change brings with it several new threats. One of these is the risk of pneumonia in livestock. Farmers should be particularly mindful of this danger, as it can kill quickly and leaves few outward signs for a post-mortem.
Agridirect.ie discusses foot rot and scald in sheep, and outlines some of the steps farmers can take to mitigate the problem.
Foot ailments in sheep
It is a simple fact that if you keep sheep, you will have to deal with lameness on an annual basis. Sheep, and particularly some of the terminal breeds, are notoriously prone to debilitating hoof ailments. Foremost among these are scald and foot rot. Both tend to proliferate in wet, warm conditions so sheep farmers should be vigilant at the moment. While I haven’t encountered any hoof issues on our farm this autumn, I have heard several farmers complaining of a major outbreak of either scald or foot rot.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Grass 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?
Agridirectputs together a list of 5 signs you’ve been shearing sheep this month.
Farmers on the shears: the telltale signs
Well folks, the shearing season is now well and truly underway. And not before time, because this is maggoty weather. The humidity of the last couple of weeks makes for perfect breeding conditions for the blowfly. Here at Agridirect.ie, we’ve been talking to farmers in the throes of shearing their flocks. To mark the season, we’ve put together a list of 5 the telltale signs that you’ve been shearing sheep. Here they are: Continue reading “5 signs you’ve been shearing sheep”
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