While some early lambing flocks have this season’s lambing complete, most of Ireland’s 2.5m breeding ewe flock will be lambing over the next eight to 10 weeks. Reports from scanners show a continued move from early lambing to mid-season lambing which is also being reflected in a more seasonal lamb supply pattern.

This spring has been a blessing when you consider the weather experienced 12 months ago. Ewes are reported as being in pretty good condition and carrying a favourable crop of lambs. The success of getting live lambs on the ground and keeping mortality below 8% in lower litter size flocks and under 10% in higher prolificacy flocks will be influenced by preparation in advance of lambing. Ewes lambing down with lots of colostrum and vigorous lambs that are up quick to suckle is the ideal scenario. The chances of this occurring are influenced by late-pregnancy feeding and this is emphasised across a number of articles.

In this Focus, we the importance of good-quality colostrum, highlighting target intakes and differences in production across and within breeds. We also touch on the importance of feeding in ensuring favourable lamb liveweights and colostrum production for multiple litters. Michael Gottstein gives invaluable information in discussing the options for rearing surplus lambs.

We cover feeding tips, both pre- and post-lambing depending on forage quality and grass supplies. With grass in greater abundance this spring, there may be an option for outdoor lambing . The important subject of abortion in flocks is examined in-depth with advice in particular on dealing with enzootic abortion.

Finally, we take a look at the new products available this lambing season.