Pre­par­ing for tup­ping time

Dumfries & Galloway Standard - - COUNTRYSIDE -

As tup­ping time ap­proaches, the health and nu­tri­tion of ewes and tups will be un­der dis­cus­sion at the next Niths­dale Mon­i­tor Farm meet­ing at Clon­hie, near Pen­pont on Thursday, Oc­to­ber 5.

At the meet­ing, which is free to at­tend and starts at 11am, host farmer An­drew Marchant will give an up­date on the farm’s ac­tiv­i­ties since the last meet­ing and share his plans for his flock for the breed­ing sea­son ahead.

“We cur­rently have 975 ewes and are keen to strengthen the ge­net­ics in our breed­ing flock so we use a com­bi­na­tion of Aber­field tups - to boost ma­ter­nal sire traits - and Bel­tex/Texel tups, for good ter­mi­nal sire traits,” said An­drew Marchant.

The 18 tups at Clon­hie, which in­clude a new In­no­vis High­lander tup bought by the Marchants ear­lier this year, will be turned out on Novem­ber 10 and Mr Marchant is keen to see how they per­form.

At the meet­ing next week, Alistair Pad­kin from Niths­dale vets will give a prac­ti­cal demon­stra­tion us­ing one of the tups from Clon­hie and high­light how to carry out a tup MOT be­fore the breed­ing sea­son starts. He will be joined by sheep ad­vi­sor and mon­i­tor farm fa­cil­i­ta­tor Rhid­ian Jones, who will out­line the im­por­tance of hav­ing ewes in the op­ti­mal con­di­tion score be­fore they go to the tup.

Mr Jones said: “The cor­rect nu­tri­tion of ewes lays the foun­da­tion for a suc­cess­ful and prof­itable flock, and know­ing how to con­di­tion score is the sim­plest and most ef­fec­tive way to as­sess if you are feed­ing your ewes cor­rectly.

“Ewes in the run up to tup­ping should be be­tween con­di­tion score 3 and 3.5. Dur­ing preg­nancy, the ewe’s con­di­tion score should be main­tained at around 3 in or­der to max­imise their scan­ning per­cent­age.”

En­sur­ing the ewes have ad­e­quate nu­tri­tion through­out the win­ter is key and Clon­hie have sown four hectares of kale and swedes for the first time this May, to sup­ple­ment win­ter graz­ing and re­duce the need for feed­ing con­cen­trates.

The farm has also de­vel­oped a feed bud­get, which they will share at the meet­ing next week, which shows how much grass the farm is likely to have over the win­ter, in ad­di­tion to the win­ter crops.

Clon­hie cur­rently op­er­ates both an early and late lamb­ing sys­tem, with 150 Texel cross ewes lamb­ing

inside in Fe­bru­ary and the main flock of North Che­viot / Lleyn cross ewes lamb­ing out­side in late April. With no ad­di­tional labour on the farm, Mr Marchant needs a sys­tem that is both cost ef­fec­tive, and makes the best use of his time. The farm has there­fore con­ducted a cost com­par­i­son of both sys­tems to pro­vide guid­ance for the fu­ture, the re­sults of which will be shared at the next meet­ing.

The Marchants cur­rently sell their prime lambs through Vivers and aim for a dead­weight of 1919.5kg. They are keen to see if they could fin­ish their lambs quicker and ran some small-scale com­par­i­son tri­als with their 2017 lamb crop to see if there was a dif­fer­ence in growth rates and wean­ing weights in cas­trated lambs com­pared to those left en­tire. They also looked at how lambs of­fered a creep feed com­pared to those with­out ac­cess to creep.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the weights of lambs given a Cobalt B12 in­jec­tion were also mon­i­tored over the sum­mer and com­pared with other lambs that didn’t re­ceive the sup­ple­ment. The re­sults of the trial will be shared at the meet­ing.

Mon­i­tor farm meet­ings are open and free for all farm­ers to at­tend. The meet­ing at Clon­hie will be­gin at 11am and fin­ish at 2.30pm, with lunch pro­vided.

To book your place please con­tact Ju­dith Hutchi­son, by 12 noon on Mon­day, Oc­to­ber 2 on 07718 919055 or email ju­dith.agridigm@icloud.com .

For more in­for­ma­tion about the mon­i­tor farm pro­gramme visit www.mon­i­tor­farms.co.uk.

Mon­i­tor farm An­drew Marchant of Clon­hie

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