That’s Farming’s weekly contributor, Clodagh Hughes, runs a sheep enterprise on the Monaghan/Louth border near Inniskeen.
Is it any wonder talking about the weather is so firmly ingrained in the Irish psyche?
It has such an impact on almost everything we do, especially true to farming. Unfortunately, I was right in thinking the rain just wouldn’t know when to leave and I’m sure, like me, we could all do with a wee break from it.
It’s not just the amount of rain; it’s the winds and drop in temperature that caught me by surprise.
I’m very glad I have a vaccination programme in place on my farm to cover common sheep diseases as this weather could quite easily cause illness and potential losses in the flock.
There is a nasty wee virus called orf and if it gets into your flock, you may expect, most if not all your animals, to become infected with it.
Orf is a very contagious viral skin disease that can spread extremely fast among the flock.
Like all viruses, orf is a self-limiting disease and will run its course within 4-5 weeks. Unfortunately, secondary bacterial infections can cause added complications and delay the healing process.
The virus causes sores to form around the animal’s mouth, eyes and even on their tongues which, as you can imagine, must be really sore, and will negatively impact their ability to feed.
It may be necessary to administer a suitable antibiotic to help clear up this infection.
Although there is no treatment for the virus itself, there are a few products on the market which can help heal the scabs that develop from the sores, and if there is any way I can lessen an animal’s discomfort, then I’m all for it.
I use 2 products for orf on my farm and I was very kindly given a ‘farmer’s goodie box’ of products supplied by Eamonn Mc Grath of Agristore.ie in Kilkenny which included a paste for treating the virus.
I would highly recommend the paste as it sticks to the scabs and dries them up nicely.
Orf is also a zoonotic disease, this means it can be transmitted to humans and yes, true to form I caught it 2 years ago on my thumb.
Lost my nail and everything, nasty, took ages to heal. Note to self…wear gloves.
I finally weaned my lambs on Friday last and although it seems quite cruel to separate them, it’s completely necessary and within 48 hours, peace was restored and no sheep was harmed during the process!
As I said before, it gives my ewes a good period of rest before the breeding season commences.
I know I’m not the only one who has lots of ideas and great intentions but even the best laid plans go awry…I hope to get my friend’s wool this week to get washing it and I’m in the middle of upcycling an old cabinet to use as my egg dispensary. Variety is the spice of life.