Ram fertility and breeding

Mid-season flocks will now be nearly through their first cycle of breeding, with reports of sluggish results to start, likely owing to the warmer and milder weather.

Caution should always be taken when it comes to ram fertility, with even mature rams with no issues in the past sometimes becoming infertile or sub fertile for a number of reasons.

Ewes cycle every 17 days on average, and where single sired mating is being carried out, it is better to swap rams after the first cycle to safeguard against any fertility issues.

In doing this, there is less risk of ewes being pushed out to their third cycle before being mated with a fertile ram.

Where sires of lambs are being recorded for Sheep Ireland, the tag numbers of ewes recorded to first service (e.g. yellow raddle) and the corresponding ram should be recorded.

When the second ram goes in, any new services or repeats can be recorded to that ramr.

SIS sale postponed

The multibreed SIS ram sale of genotyped and sire verified rams which was to be held in Ballybofey and Stranorlar mart this Friday 27 October is postponed, with a new date to be announced soon. For those still wishing to purchase a ram for 2023, the Sheep Ireland ramsearch facility allows you to search for eligible rams in an area – visit appsh.sheep.ie/ram-search. This also allows you to check the eligibility of rams.

Finishing store lambs

Wet grazing conditions have not only affected lamb performance and grass dry matter over the past few weeks, but have also led to lower utilisation rates and a rapidly depleting farm cover.

Where store lambs are bought in specifically for winter grazing, this may be fine, but for flocks that have ewes currently being bred or will do in the next week or so, a larger cohort of store lambs still lingering may affect grass supply for the breeding flock and can negatively impact on scanning rates next spring.

Where grass supply may be tight, it may be an option to finish forward store lambs weighing 40kg+ inside on a high concentrate diet supplemented with high DMD silage.

Lambs should have enough frame to take high levels of feeding. Feeding rates of 0.7-1kg a day, supplemented with 70+ DMD silage should lead to good weight gains. Clean water should be supplied at all times.

Clean livestock policy

With the wet weather over the past few weeks, issues with lambs presenting in dirty conditions have risen their head again.

Farmers should be cognisant of the issues with meat factories handling lambs with dirty fleeces, and a genuine effort should be made to prevent these types of lambs reaching factories.

The two main areas that are affected are the belly and tail end, where muck or faeces may accumulate. Crutching and belly clipping store lambs that remain will help limit fleece contamination.

Where lambs are housed, slats should be kept clean or bedding frequently topped up. Trailers or lorries used to transport stock to the factory should be clean prior to loading and bedded with sawdust or shavings.