Farmers can increase lambs sold per ewe next year by investing now in flock fertility.
Animax reminds farmers that the main driver of sheep profitability in all systems and all locations remains productivity, in particular, lambs sold per ewe.
Recent experience of buoyant finished lamb prices will prompt wily Irish farmers to recall, “this won’t last forever and may not even last long,” suggests Animax sheep specialist Flor Ryan.
“Of course, better prices are only what our lamb producers deserve,” he adds.
€4,000 in 200-ewe flock
With good pre-breeding preparation over the coming weeks, he calculates that increasing this from 1.6 to 1.8, for example, is worth about €4,000 in a 200-ewe flock at a typical 2020 price (c.€5.00/kg DW).
“Clearly, this kind of result depends on improvements wherever they can be found. Many easy wins from the past are already standard practice today,” Mr Ryan says.
“On some Irish farms, however, this does not yet include providing assured daily trace element supplementation in the important run-up to breeding.”
“Much of the pasture in Ireland is up to 50% deficient in critical trace elements.”
Essentials for high conception rates
He said on most farms, the essentials for high conception rates are selenium, cobalt and iodine, plus optional copper depending on breed, management, and where soil types have a known deficiency.
He added that although some supplements also contain zinc, this is largely unnecessary because sheep are very rarely deficient in this mineral.
“One of the easiest and most reliable methods of supplementation is a 180-day Allsure bolus,” he suggests.
“This provides consistent daily release of trace elements. To reduce workload, give boluses at the same time as other tasks, including worming, vaccinations, and foot checks.
“Six weeks before breeding begins is the best timing for supplementation. It is worth noting that effectiveness and convenience make Allsure Sheep & Lamb the most used sheep bolus in Ireland.”
“Fitter ewes, compact lambing and lots of lively lambs at birth” are reported by Cathal Joyce, Tuam, Co Galway.
He boluses ewes with Allsure four to six weeks before ram turnout to cover the full pregnancy.
Cathal also boluses bought-in store lambs for maximum thrive on kale grown for finishing lambs.
Benefits of an Allsure bolus outlined by Animax:
- Stronger ovulation, higher embryo survival ;
- Higher lambing %, fewer barren ewes;
- Minimal handling, ‘give and forget’ for 180 days;
- Easy copper option if required (e.g. prevention of swayback in lambs);
- Easy to give, no risk (to ewe or you).