Regardless of how Irish sheep farming might be affected by the UK/EU trade talks, preparing ewes for breeding as much as 12 to 16 weeks before conception could produce more lambs for sale next year, according to Dr Berry from Animax.
“At today’s values in a typical 500-ewe lowland flock, this could be worth €5,000 or more,” she says.
“For any crop of lambs, of course, the die is cast well before breeding by getting ewes into ideal condition for high conception rates and embryo retention, maximum twin-bearing pregnancies, and low barren rate.”
By now, many flock owners will have checked body condition scores after weaning and segregated ewes into thin, just right and fat groups.
Unless grazing is really sparse, Dr Berry suggests that managing their nutrition in readiness for breeding needn’t involve buying much feed.
She says supplying the essential trace elements in which much of Ireland is deficient means that decent pasture may be relied on for getting ewes to optimum body condition score for breeding, 3.5 (lowland) or 2.5 (hill breeds).
Critical trace elements are usually selenium, iodine and cobalt, plus copper in some known localities.
Without supplementation, Dr Berry advises that the full nutrient value of pasture cannot be utilised and concentrates may be needed, especially for under-weight ewes.
“Among available methods – drenching, in-feed minerals, free-access licks, etc – the one offering 180-days’ duration, single handling of ewes, and constant trickle-charge release of trace elements, is Allsure Sheep & Lamb,” she says.
“Giving these leaching boluses is easy, with a short video demonstration and telephone advice available for first-timers.”
Leaching bolus technology was developed by and is unique to Animax.
“Fitter ewes, higher conception rates, a more compact lambing period, and consistent lamb birth-weights” are reported by David Cromie near Rathfriland, Co Down, Northern Ireland.
Twice-yearly, his and father, Alan’s Millhaven Charollais and commercial crossbred ewes are bolused with Allsure Sheep & Lamb, well ahead of breeding and again pre-lambing.
“In addition to increased production, we also value the peace of mind that trace element deficiencies are covered,” David says.
- Stronger ovulation then higher embryo viability and survival;
- Higher lambing % and fewer barreners;
- Minimal handling of ewes;
- ‘Give and forget’ trace elements for 180 days until pre-lambing repeat;
- Easy copper option if required (prevention of swayback in lambs, of course);
- ‘Flushing’ caution: A short term repair when pre-breeding preparation is left too late. It may increase triplets in older ewes and prolific breeds;
- Eligible for €10/ewe support under Sheep Welfare Scheme;
- Easy to give, no risk (to ewe or you).