It is that time of year again where questions arise regarding complying with the post-mating mineral supplementation measure in the Sheep Welfare Scheme (SWS).
Along with ultrasound pregnancy scanning, this is the dominant measure selected by a high percentage of the 18,323 participants who received payment in 2020.
The most common question relates to what defines post-mating.
The Department considers the start of the 60-day post-mating period as the days ewes are joined with ewes.
Where ewes are mated in different batch dates, then each date should be recorded in the scheme action book.
The next question relates to the preference by many farmers to administer mineral supplementation in advance of mating, with the start of the flushing period a common start date.
There is no issue in administering minerals earlier as long as the entire 60-day period is covered and there is no break in supplementation.
Ewes can be supplemented via a number of methods, including dosing, bolusing, mineral lick buckets or a combination of these.
A combination of products may be also used provided that no break in supplementation occurs.
This is a common occurrence where mineral supplementation is introduced in advance of the start of mating.
For example, some farmers administer a mineral drench which covers a two-month period and satisfy the shortfall by introducing mineral buckets or mineral powder at the end of the 60-day period.
Boluses with a three-month supplementation window are another common option used.
With lick buckets, it is important to note that the required number of lick buckets based on the recommended daily feeding guidelines must be purchased irrespective of whether or not ewes are consuming them.
In this regard, it is worth assessing the recommended guidelines to check the quantity of lick buckets that need to be purchased.
Take note also that the label of the product used must clearly state the product is suitable for ewes. It must also specify a duration of cover for ewes - for example, 'this product is effective for X days or X weeks', etc.
The product must also specify a dose rate and, in the case of boluses, for example it might be 'one bolus per ewe' or for mineral buckets, the label may read 'one bucket per 30 ewes will last for 15 days'.
In relation to purchasing mineral supplements, once the manufacturer of the product, the wholesaler or retailer are registered with the Department as a food business operator, the product will be considered eligible for the purposes of the SWS.
It is important to ensure that the information on the invoice relating to the purchase of minerals reflects the date recorded in the scheme action booklet.