Mas­ti­tis rises as wet ground puts squeeze on our ewes

Irish Independent - Farming - - FARM OUR - JOHN LARGE

WE are nearly fin­ished lamb­ing with just a few late ewes and hoggets left now. As they lamb they are kept inside for a few days. We are still very tight for grass es­pe­cially on the fields that were grazed first.

Re­growth is very slow and our ro­ta­tion length is too short, go­ing back into fields that need a few more days to get a bet­ter cover on them is not a good idea. But when a field is bare of grass we move onto the next one, at least they have a clean field for a few more days. We are still feed­ing most of the ewes rear­ing twins 1kg of nuts on the grass.

All ground, ex­cept for two wet pad­docks re­ceived two dress­ings of fer­tiliser, one bag of Urea in March and a bag-and-a-half of Pas­ture Sward in April. Any­where there was a good cover of grass has grown on well es­pe­cially af­ter the few days of sun we got in the mid­dle of April, but we all know it was short-lived. Just check­ing back through old diaries we got tight for grass again in 2016 and were feed­ing un­til early May, but that year ground con­di­tions were a lot drier than now.

The real prob­lem this year has been the wet ground con­di­tions which has led to an in­crease in ewes get­ting mas­ti­tis, lambs get­ting Joint ill and a big­ger threat from coc­cid­io­sis. We will dose all lambs this week for Ne­ma­todirus with a white drench and also dose for coc­cid­io­sis us­ing a prod­uct which has a resid­ual ef­fect to give cover for a few weeks.

All the early lambs will be weighed the same time. We do not ex­pect 40-day weights to be good but hope­fully the lambs can make up ground be­fore wean­ing. Ewes are also in poorer con­di­tion than other years. They will need more feed­ing af­ter wean­ing. I also ex­pect our cull rate to be higher. More ewes got mas­ti­tis, from lambs feed­ing harder try­ing to com­pen­sate for the lack of grass, which led to ewes get­ting sore teats.

What do you do with these ewe-lambs in a year like this? We took most of them away from the ewes and put them on a Vo­lac ewe two-lamb feeder. Once they learned to feed there was very lit­tle prob­lem with them. We get them onto cold milk as quickly as pos­si­ble which cuts down on the amount of milk they drink and gets them to eat meal in­stead. Us­ing cold milk seems to help re­duce the in­ci­dence of lambs get­ting bloated from over-feed­ing.

Our ewe-lambs have all nearly lambed by now. The sin­gles were only housed the first week of April. The first week they lambed them­selves with small handy lambs. Then in week two we had more trouble de­liv­er­ing the lambs, and even had a few sec­tions. The lambs had grown big very quickly. We were only feed­ing 250gm of meal and some good hay.

But sur­prise, sur­prise af­ter a week of hard­ship ev­ery­thing turned around, some even started to lamb them­selves more or less the same size lambs but pre­sent­ing cor­rectly with two feet and a head not like the week be­fore with one leg and a head that wouldn’t go back, so that you could get the other leg or be able to lamb with one leg.

The ewe-lambs have not got a lot of milk when they lamb but come on af­ter a few days. Again weather is not help­ing as we can­not get them out for a week af­ter lamb­ing. By then the lambs are handy and their mothers need a pick of grass to keep them milk­ing.

The small num­ber with twins were no prob­lem. They are all still inside get­ting 1kg of meal and the lambs have ac­cess to a creep feeder.

The big job on this farm is no dif­fer­ent to every­body else — try and get as much fod­der for next win­ter, so grow­ing grass for the next two months is a pri­or­ity. We have a lot of ground to make up. This time last year we made bales of silage on May 4. We’re a long way from there now.

John Large farms at Gort­na­hoe, Co Tip­per­ary

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