For most commercial farmers lambing from the start to mid-March, breeding is still four to six weeks away.
However, breeding is starting imminently for producers with a lambing date of 1 February.
One of the most common measures selected under the Sheep Welfare Scheme (SWS) is mineral supplementation of ewes post-mating.
Under this measure, ewes must receive mineral supplementation for at least 60 days post-mating.
The Department of Agriculture defines this as 60 days following ewes being joined with rams. Where a split-mating programme is in place, then mineral supplementation should also be split.
These is no problem in supplementing ewes at an earlier date, as long as the supplementation administered is sufficient to cover the required timeframe.
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 that 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.