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HomeEditor's PicksDiary: You know that expression ‘shooting yourself in the foot’?
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Diary: You know that expression ‘shooting yourself in the foot’?

In this week’s Farmer’s Diary, sheep farmer, Clodagh Hughes, has reassessed her farm protocols in recent days. A large bunch of lambs are suffering a heavy worm burden.

Well, never was an expression more appropriate to describe certain aspects of my farming practices this year.

But what is most frustrating, is that everything I do here on my wee farm is me trying my hardest to carry out the best farm protocols with regards to; the use of antibiotics, worming treatments, grassland management and all animal husbandry practices.

This year, in particular, I have struggled to keep on top of certain issues.  Some have been out of my control due to weather or financial constraints. Others have occurred due to simple lack of experience and me being a little overzealous in adhering to ‘the rules’.

Now, I am not on about breaking rules, but there is no one size farming cap that fits all farm enterprises. Unfortunately, to my own detriment, I have had to do a serious reassessment of my own farm protocols in the last few days.

The main thing I fell down on this year was my worming procedures amongst my ewes and lambs.

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I have not treated my breeding ewes for intestinal worms in a couple of years.

Firstly, because, there had never been sheep on the land, therefore a very low chance of any pre-existing parasites being present on the pastures and as adult sheep, they build up a strong resistance to most internal parasites.

And this is good. It saves me money on de-worming products and less manual labour is involved.

But on the flip side, as my numbers have increased this year. With the very unpredictable grass growing season since spring, I have not been able to give the ground long enough to rest in-between grazing stock.

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Heavy worm burden

Ultimately, this meant lambs and adult sheep were grazing on similar ground and, because the lambs have not built up adequate worm resistance, I have ended up with a big bunch of lambs who are suffering from a heavy worm burden which adversely affects their thrive and can cause upset to their highly specialised gut microbes/ the good bacteria.

I pride myself in not over-using de-worming products. Although, in theory, I am correct in my thinking, I have gone and shot myself in the welly boots!

The adverse effects of these actions are:

  • I have made extra work for myself having to gather in and treat the lambs for the worms;
  • Also, I have delayed my chance to sell my lambs due to the withdrawal periods of the products;
  • Because my lambs will be on the farm for at least a month longer, they are eating grass and meal that I cannot really afford to be giving them.
Parasite control and vaccination procedures

As I said earlier, I really must reassess my vaccination and parasite control procedures as I start to prepare for the upcoming breeding season. I will be implementing a new and rigid protocol for 2022.                                                                                                                                                                             Thankfully, my ewes are all in fabulous condition, and my ram is just waiting to get his starter’s orders!

As the saying goes, “That’s Farming”.

Read more of Clodagh’s diary entries.

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