Housing ewes: The unsettled weather continues to force earlier housing. Where ewes can be housed dry, it allows ewes to settle quicker into their new environment and for those carrying out winter shearing makes this task much more straightforward. Teagasc research shows significant production advantages from winter shearing. It has the potential to increase lamb birth weight in mid-season lambing ewes by 0.6kg without increasing lambing difficulty, increase weaning weight by 1.9kg and subsequently reduce the age of lambs to slaughter by about two weeks.
This needs to be balanced, however, by the cost of shearing, lower value of wool and fact that ewes will eat more. The decision for many comes down to management benefits with winter shearing, allowing about 15% more ewes to be housed in a given space (take care to ensure there is sufficient feeding space). It will also allow condition to be monitored easier and keep ewes cleaner pre- and post-lambing.