Alan Cole from Athy, Co. Kildare was the second speaker for this year’s Irish Grassland Association’s 2021 virtual sheep event.
Alan farms a flock of 200 mid-season lambing ewes, finishing all progeny on-farm. There are multiple enterprises on the farm with spring barley, winter wheat and contract rearing 60 dairy heifers.
Therefore, the farm needs to be managed efficiently to ensure all enterprises run smoothly concurrently.
Alan puts a big focus on grassland management for his sheep flock and dairy heifers. The high level of grassland management is helped by the excellent grassland infrastructure. The farm is split into 20 main paddocks that can easily be subdivided when required.
Furthermore, Alan aims to finish as many lambs as possible off grass, and to achieve this, he has a two-pronged approach.
Firstly, he ensures that lambs have an ample supply of fresh leafy grass in front of them at all times.
Secondly, he ensures the lambs are not under any parasitic burden that would hinder their performance.
Faecal egg sampling
Alan is very aware of the effects a high worm burden can have on lambs’ performance, and the worm burden of his flock is measured frequently over the grazing season using faecal egg sampling.
Faecal egg sampling serves two purposes for Alan. Firstly, it allows him to monitor the level of worm burden in the lambs and treat the lambs with anthelmintics when required.
Secondly, it allows him to manage the level of anthelmintic use on his farm to avoid the development of anthelmintic resistance.
Frequent faecal egg counts allow Alan only to administer anthelmintics when the lambs are under a high worm burden. This avoids the overuse of anthelmintics, which can lead to anthelmintic resistance.
Outdoor lambing a success for 800-ewe farmers
Peter McGuinness’ use of innovative practices to enhance flock management and performance in his outdoor lambing system was the focus of the Irish Grassland Association virtual sheep event on June 22nd.
He farms a 500-acre enterprise in partnership with his father, Tom, in Trim, Co. Meath.
They have a sheep and tillage enterprise with a beef finishing unit, working on a B&B system and rear dairy heifers for the summer period.
More on Peter’s farm – see video