In this week’s Farmer’s Diary, Edward Earle discusses lambing 2021, his feeding regime, and overcoming an E.coli outbreak on his Wexford-based sheep farm in recent years.
It is the final run to lambing 2021 now; ewes are on a 20% protein concentrate prior to lambing.
Protein quality is important, so you must ensure that rations contain good quality ingredients; ideally, a soybean meal is the best option.
We are feeding doubles and triplets twice-a-day. Once the feeding level goes above 500g per ewe/day, we split feeding between morning and evening.
We do this to avoid putting ewes under any added pressure, which can lead to rumen upset.
Singles remain on once-a-day feeding. As levels of feed increase, so will ewes’ water requirements.
We regularly clean drinkers out to ensure access to a clean, fresh water supply. We do this as overtime, droppings/meal/silage/straw particles can contaminate drinkers.
Grassland management and soil sampling
There is no better feed than good quality grass for ewes to milk and lambs to thrive. Getting this right plays a big part in farm performance.
We have taken soil samples on half the farm this year and will cover the rest of the farm year. Furthermore, we will do it this way to better track the soil’s nutrient levels and manage our practices better.
We would have only soil tested in the past, maybe one field this year and another one the next.
With lambing starting, we have checked paddocks to see if there is any fencing to be completed. We applied our first application of urea on the farm on March 8th. It is later than last year due to all the rain and the heavy nature of our farm’s soil.
The ewes were foot-bathed two weeks before their due start date. We do not like to do this any later than this as ewes are getting heavy and slow.
E.coli sheep farm
We ran into a severe issue with E.coli on our sheep farm in recent years. We looked into how we would avoid this issue happening again, so we changed our approach.
There are two parts, the spraying of the bedding with a probiotic before and during lambing and from where every lamb use to receive Spectam at birth to give a probiotic to lambs.
We do not wet the bedding; we use a small garden spraying and mist a spray across the bedding.
Changing our mindset away from an antibiotic to a probiotic was not easy, but when faced with that scenario, we had no other choice, and I am thrilled to see it does work.