As lambing is probably the most intense and demanding job on a sheep farm, it is easy to see why additional tasks such as recording performance and deaths are often well down on the priority list.

However, monitoring performance and collecting valuable records, like the weight of lambs born or ewe milk yield can shed light on questions such as, “was the feeding programme implemented successful?”

Mortality records are also important in determining the level of mortality and illuminating the severity of a possible health issue within a flock and the possible cause.

At the recent Teagasc lowland sheep conferences, Seamus Fagan from the Athlone Regional Veterinary Laboratory outlined four invaluable records that sheep farmers should strive to maintain:

  • How many adult sheep and lambs live and die each year.
  • The age of lambs and adult sheep when they die.
  • The major causes of death.
  • Body condition score for adults, growth rate for lambs.
  • This information will provide a good insight on where improvements can be made and, in turn, improve profitability, sustainability and welfare.

    There are many simple steps that can be adopted to monitor performance at lambing that are not hugely demanding on labour.

    Practices like having a white board in the lambing shed will allow important information to be recorded centrally.

    A simple piece of corriboard cable-tied to lambing pens allows information to be quickly recorded on those animals, and is also useful when there is more than one person working in the shed to share information.

    Other tips from farmers include taking a photo of cases of mortality and making a record on the Notes app of their phone.

    Other farmers send an email to themselves so they have a log of the event, while the gold standard is to record it in to your farm records in hardcopy form or through a performance recording app.

    Whatever the manner, the benefit, according to Seamus, is being able to sit down at a point in time and review these records.