Edward Earle, Gorey, Co. Wexford, works as a quality engineer and farms over 300 ewes in partnership with his parents.
The 31-year-old, who studied agricultural science at WIT and UCD, is That’s Farming’s newest weekly contributor – here is his first update:
Lambing 2020 is wrapping up on our farm – are down to the last 9 to lamb, as usually these few will be scattered throughout the month of April, writes Edward Earle.
We have had a very busy lambing period with lambing starting on 12th March. It kicked off with a good surprise in the form of a healthy set of quads from a ewe scanned for triplets.
As I work off-farm during the week, having a compact lambing block is really important for when the main bunch of ewes is lambing as I take this time off from work.
We achieve this with ram power – over the last few years we have been bringing the ram: ewe ratio on the farm down from 1:30 in 2014 to 1:16 in 2019.
So, in 3 weeks, 287 ewes lambed, which is 92% of the flock; this creates a lot of work within a short period, so it is essential to have a good set-up.
Having lambing pens set up prior to lambing starting is key. Lambing has gone well this year with lambs spending approximately 24 hours in individual pens to allow time for bonding and to ensure lambs get adequate colostrum.
Hygiene is very important for us – after each ewe leaves the individual pen, each pen is cleaned out disinfected and bedded with clean straw.
As there was a cold east wind for a few days in March when we were lambing, we had to keep ewe and lambs inside for an extra few days at the start.
All ewes are out on grass now, with the remaining ewes to lamb out by day and in by night. The only stock kept in now are the rams and as soon as we group up ewes and lambs they will be let out.
The main job we started this week is vaccinating the lambs with their Heptavac P and dosing for Nematodirus.
We use Heptavac P for the control of pasteurellosis pneumonia and clostridial diseases. We target to give them this vaccine and dose 3-4 weeks after lambing.
So, we group ewes and lambs by age to allow for management of this.
When we have the lambs in and away from the ewes, we run the ewes through the footbath in zinc sulphate solution.