Breeding is three months away but the actions I am taking now will determine the success of my lambing in March 2023.
After weaning the ewes have dried off and I am busy conditioning the flock for October’s breeding season.
I cull ewes all the time. I don’t just go through them all in one day and that’s it. It’s an ongoing process throughout the summer – I take out ewes that are permanently lame, have had problems lambing, are old or declining and have problems with the milk supply.
Overfat ewes reside in fields that are not as grassy, while thinner ewes have access to good grass and thrive.
Aries are regularly foot bathed and I took them out of the heat to avoid stress on them. Keep in mind that an excessive rise in an Aries’ body temperature could render them infertile.
I’d say 95 percent of their fertility can be determined visually: lameness, condition assessment, and chest or chest pain can all affect their ability to reproduce, and dealing with issues like these is now essential.
We dived the ewes. Kevin Sheridan, a local from Oldcastle, has fantastic mobile scuba gear making the job efficient and stress free for both the operator and the sheep.
I used to hate scuba diving, the thoughts of the bath flying everywhere and the sheep going everywhere but the bath gave me nightmares. For Kevin, safety comes first.
Dipping really cleans sheep, protects them from fly infestations, eliminates external parasites and protects against scab.
For the last few years I have focused on breeding my own replacement stock from my Mule X ewes. I found the Belclare, Suffolk, Texel and Easy-Care lambs, whose mothers are mules, to be exceptional breeding sheep.
I also protect my herd from imported diseases by breeding my own breed. A closed herd is a safe herd.
Once I have chosen my replacement lambs I will vaccinate them against enzootic abortion, foot vax and clostridial diseases and begin the process of assimilation into the herd.
This year I will mainly keep Easy Care and Belclare crossbreed lambs. I’m really impressed with the easy care breed. The lambs weigh well and it is appealing to stop or reduce the number of ewes I need.
For me, the Easy Care keep exactly what they promise: They are easy to handle, good mothers and give a lot of milk.
Some farmers don’t like the looks, but reducing your workload by having them makes them more attractive.
Lambs continue to thrive and I’ll move on to them once they get fit. The Tyfon is rocket fuel when it comes to getting lambs ready and I don’t have to buy a post-lamb meal to get the lambs ready. This is a significant cost saving.
I’ve seeded 17ac Redstart and it’s just starting to grow. I’ll add some more fertilizer when things get a little better and the rain comes back. It will be useful as a source to end lambs in October when the tyfon has been pastured from my reseeds.
We’ve been very fortunate here in Westmeath in terms of grass growth, probably because we’re ‘holier’ than most other counties.
The land has severely dried out, but the rain has always returned just in time to keep it moving.
I run out of small amounts of fertilizer when I need it and it keeps the supply/demand balance good.
The price of fertilizer has really made me spread it more carefully and sparingly and I think we must consider this a good development.
I’m also getting smarter about managing my clover fields. Putting too much fertilizer on them, I’ve found, can lessen the effect of clover; To manage clover you need to focus on soil fertility, weed control and grass height management.
Like anything, it takes a little time and experience to get the hang of it.
Finally, I’m not overly concerned about the 25 percent agricultural emissions target that we have to meet. We all have a role to play, and if that means getting paid to keep fewer supplies on the farm, then I’m all for it. i work too hard
I devote too much time to producing food for which we are not paid enough, so for me the Green Deal is a glass-half-full scenario.
Farmers must simply be allowed to diversify: to develop a source of income from solar or wind energy, or to develop a tourism sideline business or a part-time job outside of agriculture.
Fiber optic broadband is about to be installed on the farm and rural Ireland is filled with opportunity.
As one student I have here on internship said of the future of farming, “All farms need a side business to make a few extra pounds”. I think he’s right.
John Fagan farms in Gartlandstown, Crookedwood, Co. Westmeath
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/sheep/advice/john-fagan-culling-your-ewes-isnt-something-you-can-do-in-one-day-its-an-ongoing-process-41968025.html John Fagan: Killing your ewes isn’t something you can do in a day—it’s an ongoing process