We all know farming is hard at the best of times. It takes passion and commitment in order to look after their livestock. Some see it as a hobby, while for others it’s their only source of income, which is why it’s something not to be taken lightly.Healthy lamb births in the sheep flock are a boost to any farmer. Twins or even triplets are not necessarily double the trouble, but may well be double the profit. Healthy ewes increase the likelihood of healthy lambs. A ewe will usually reach sexual maturity at around six to eight months of age and during this time it’s important for the animal to be in optimum health. One of the main reasons a low percentage of lambing occurs during the season is because of a deficiency in vitamins and minerals in the breeding ewe.There are ways that this unnecessary circumstance can be prevented. Taking steps to increase the ewe’s well-being and giving the animal the right precautionary measures increases the chance of fertility, produces stronger lambs and ensures good quality colostrum. This will contribute to making all your hard work over the season worthwhile.
Importance of Nutrition
Good ewe nutrition is important for successful flock performance. Giving the ewe a balanced diet will result in better quality lambs and a higher milk production, resulting in better lamb growth.Scanning ewes mid pregnancy is a practice that will help determine whether a ewe is pregnant for a start, but will also allow for the grouping of ewes according to the number of lambs being carried. This is vital for the nutritional requirements, as itwill enable appropriate feeding during the latter stages of pregnancy.70% of the fetal growth occurs during the final 6 weeks of lambing. During this time energy and protein requirements are in high demand. Because so much of the diet can depend on grass or silage that can either be sparse or of poor quality, the provision of adequate protein is important. This can be supplemented with good quality ration or nuts. This should improve the weight of the lamb prior to birth, giving it the all important start it needs.
Protecting your lambs starts well before they are even born. Throughout the year regular vaccinations of your ewes is important and doing so results in the animal being in maximal health, and not only does itboost her own immunity, it also maximizes the protective antibodies found in the ewe’s colostrum prior to birth. This results inin the vital protection that the new born lamb needs against certain diseases such as lamb dysentery (an intestinal disease of lambs in their first week of life) until they can be vaccinated themselves, which isusually after 4 - 6 weeks of birth.
Fluke and Worm control
Treating your flock for fluke and worms throughout the year is common practice. Early treatment will make for a better winter and easier lambing. Timing is key and it is important to use the appropriate drug for each situation at the right time.Whichever method for administering the drug you choose, be it orally (such as Endofluke), injectables (such as Bimectin) or pour-ons, it’s important to follow the products instructions carefully as giving the incorrect dose may produce negative effects. When it comes to liver fluke, a chemical with an active ingredient against the parasite, a flukicide, should be used when fluke is an issue. None of the fluke drugs are long active and some only effect certain life cycles of fluke so it’s important to re-administer a follow up treatment in the near future. One of the more popular products on the market is Endofluke, as it contains Triclabendazole, an active ingredient that kills all stages of liver fluke but, like all flukicides, resistance can occur with frequent use so an alternative should be used whenever possible.While similar precautions and practices should be taken when it comes to worm control, adolescent sheep are far more susceptible to worms then older sheep as healthy adult sheep have a good immune response to most species of worms due to the frequent exposure.During the young lamb’slife, trying to stop the worms from damaging the gut of the animal is essential asit starts to impair trace element uptake and the growth rate starts to slow down,which in turn effects your finances. A simple worm test should be in place. Eventually, over time when the lambs are exposed to worms they start to build up their own immunity, so the objective is to keep worms at a level that doesn’t have any detrimental health effects.
Boosting the health and condition of your breeding ewes makes absolute sense when they are the linchpin to the overall wellbeing of your flock. Good nutrition, preventative vaccinations and the vigorous control of parasites is an investment in your farm and in your future. For further information on any of the products mention, just drop into us at the store, Cronins Hardware and Agri Products, and we will be pleased, as always, to find the best solution for you and your flock.