We have opted for an in­fu­sion of prize-win­ning Ul­ster genes

Irish Independent - Farming - - FARM OUR - TOM STAUNTON

THE Blue­faced Le­ices­ter ewes have re­ceived AI and are due to lamb down the last few days of Fe­bru­ary.

We used a new ram — pur­chased in Bal­ly­mena in con­junc­tion with Joe Sc­ahill of the Faugh­bur­ren Blue­faced Le­ices­ter flock. The lamb is from M Wright and the Mul­lagh­wee flock. The lamb is by Park­gate­stone G4 and won many shows last summer as a lamb in North­ern Ire­land.

We are de­lighted with the new ad­di­tion to the flock and we are hope­ful that his blood­line and fam­ily his­tory will breed through in our flocks.

Apart from hav­ing good colour, the lamb has great shape and con­for­ma­tion, good bone and a tight coat. He will also be used on Black­face ewes (La­nark type) to breed Mules for next year’s Mayo Mule and Grey­face sale.

We also AI’d some La­nark type Black­face ewes to some top sot­tish blood­lines. We used the fa­mous £90,000 Black­house ram who has bred some bril­liant sheep over the past few years and is also from a flock with great tra­di­tion and good breed­ing ewes. We picked some of the best Black­face ewes in the flock for this job so we can pass on the blood­line down through the rest of the flock.

I man­aged to pur­chase some Scotch Black­face type hoggets at the Mayo Black­face sale in Ballinrobe to help boost num­bers.

Th­ese will join up with the rest of the flock for the busy mat­ing pe­riod ahead. The bought-in sheep got the same prep pre-mat­ing as did the main flock, in­clud­ing, fluke and worm dos­ing, min­eral and vi­ta­min sup­ple­men­ta­tion and their tails were clipped.

One of my aims for the breed­ing sea­son is to dis­turb the ewes as lit­tle as pos­si­ble by re­duc­ing the stress of gath­er­ing, dos­ing. I aim to achieve this by do­ing all th­ese jobs pre-breed­ing.

All ewes were plunge dipped be­fore join­ing the ram. I felt lucky to get a day that was dry among all this wet weather to do this job.

Once the rams are out they will first start with a yel­low rad­dle mixed with oil and painted onto their chests. I pre­fer do­ing it this way than us­ing a har­ness. I am fear­ful of dis­com­fort and in­jury with a har­ness. It also gives me the op­por­tu­nity to give some ad­di­tional feed to the rams es­pe­cially the Blue­faced Le­ices­ter ram lambs to help keep en­ergy lev­els up dur­ing this time of the year. I feed a mix of a ra­tion with ex­tra oats added in through it.

I change the rad­dle colour every two weeks. Red and then blue will fol­low yel­low with the rad­dle colours. I feel it’s im­por­tant to keep an eye on rams to make sure they are tip­ping prop­erly and also that ewe’s are not re­peat­ing and com­ing in heat again.

I get all the rams fer­til­ity tested, but this doesn’t mean the ram is work­ing prop­erly.

It does let you know if the ram is fer­tile and I rec­om­mend it to all be­fore the ram is let out with ewes. It pre­vents in­fer­tile rams go­ing to ewes and de­lay­ing lamb­ing and, if un­de­tected, no lambs at all.

We sold the cull ewes to the fac­tory last week. I am de­lighted to be rid of th­ese ewes as they were tak­ing up valu­able grass for ewes out with the rams. I hope to have another batch of wether lambs for sale soon. Th­ese are now at grass with a high level of con­cen­trates. I am con­sid­er­ing sow­ing Typhon next year to fin­ish the wether lambs. I have heard a few re­ports that it works very well and is much cheaper than feed­ing con­cen­trates.

Storm Ophe­lia caused much dam­age through­out the coun­try, but for­tu­nately we seemed to have es­caped the worst of it. The weather over the past month has been dif­fi­cult. Land is quite wet and it is not ideal for rams and ewes alike for the mat­ing sea­son. Let’s hope an im­prove­ment comes soon.


Tom Staunton farms in Tour­makeady, Co Mayo

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