Blowfly strike

The level of blowfly strike recorded to-date has been variable across the country, with many areas experiencing a lower prevalence and as such, holding off from applying preventative products.

These farmers will likely move to apply preventative measures in the weeks ahead, with this task linked to weaning in many flocks.

There are a few aspects to keep in mind when applying pour-on or dipping lambs as the season progresses. Withdrawal dates are an important consideration, with these ranging from seven to eight days to 40 days for pour-on products while the withdrawal period for most sheep dips is 35 days.

There is a direct link between withdrawal periods and the length of cover claimed in the product guidelines. This ranges anywhere from five to eight weeks for dipping products and as long as 16 to 18 weeks for pour ons.

The length of protection attained will be influenced by the manner in which products are applied.

Applying product or dipping during the hottest parts of the day will increase the risk of the active ingredient being evaporated before it has had a chance to bind with the fleece.

This could be a particular issue in the coming days if forecast higher temperatures materialise. This also applies to sheep dipping. Many pour-on products also only provide cover on the area of the fleece in which they come in contact with.

As such it is important to ensure that product is applied in a wide sweep along the shoulder, back and rump region, following manufacturers’ guidelines and using the appropriate nozzle, where applicable. Dagging dirty tail ends prior to application will help prolong the period of cover.

Weighing scales calibration

For flocks approaching weaning now will be the first time the weighing scales is being pulled out after a few months of no use. It is a good exercise where a scales has not been used for a long period, or also where a scales is used infrequently, to calibrate it to ensure it is weighing accurately.

The areas that generally give rise to issues are the weighing mechanism, be it load bars or the weighing clock playing up, while another area which is often not readily identified is damage to a weighing crate or cage restricting free movement.

Items used for weighing to check accuracy should also be capable of at least weighing above the general weight of lambs being weighed, as it is also possible for a scales to accurately weigh a lighter item but to deviate at heavier weights. The animals should also be placed evenly across the scales.

Faecal egg counts

Farmers should continue to be on guard for a spike in worm burdens. This is especially the case in the east of the country where recent rainfall followed a significant dry spell.

Taking faecal egg counts every two to three weeks in such circumstances is advisable, along with monitoring lamb performance.

Weaning and mastitis risk

The risk of mastitis increases significantly post-weaning, particularly where ewes are housed for a period. Practices put in place including ensuring ewes have a clean dry bed and that high risk damp areas are disinfected regularly will help to cut down on issues.