Increase lambs sold per ewe next year by investing now in flock fertility

€4k bounty for +0.2 lambs sold per ewe higher productivity in 200-ewe flock

Recent experience of buoyant finished lamb prices will prompt wily Irish farmers to recall, “this won’t last forever and may not even last long,” suggests Animax sheep specialist Flor Ryan. “Of course, better prices are only what our lamb producers deserve,” he says.

Planning ahead, he reminds farmers that, whatever price levels are for finished lambs this time next year, the number one driver of sheep profitability in all systems and all locations remains productivity, in particular lambs sold per ewe.

With good pre-tupping preparation over the coming weeks, he calculates that increasing this from 1.6 to 1.8 for example is worth about €4,000 in a 200-ewe flock at a typical 2020 price (c.€5.00/kg DW).

“Clearly, this kind of result depends on improvements wherever they can be found and many easy wins from the past are already standard practice today,” Mr Ryan adds. “On some Irish farms, however, this does not yet include providing assured daily trace element supplementation in the important run up to tupping.

“Much of the pasture in Ireland is up to 50% deficient in critical trace elements. On most farms, the essentials for high conception rates are selenium, cobalt and iodine, plus optional copper depending on breed, management and soil types with known deficiency. Although some supplements also contain zinc, this is largely unnecessary because sheep are very rarely deficient in this mineral.

“One of the easiest and most reliable method of supplementation for six months Tracesure bolus,” he suggests. “This provides consistent daily release of trace elements. To reduce workload, boluses can be given at the same time as other tasks including worming, vaccinations and foot checks.

“Six weeks before breeding begins is the best timing for supplementation. It’s worth noting that effectiveness and convenience make Tracesure Sheep the most used sheep bolus in Ireland.”

Benefits of Tracesure boluses:

  • Stronger ovulation, higher embryo survival
  • Higher lambing %, fewer barren ewes
  • Minimal handling, ‘give and forget’ for 6 months
  • Easy copper option if required (e.g. prevention of swayback in lambs)
  • Easy to give, no risk (to ewe or you)

Farmer-to-farmer: “Fitter ewes, compact lambing and lots of lively lambs at birth are reported by Cathal Joyce, Tuam, Co Galway. He boluses ewes with Tracesure four to six weeks before ram turnout to cover the full pregnancy. Cathal also boluses bought-in store lambs for maximum thrive on kale grown for finishing lambs.

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‘Bounty’ calculation: 0.2 x 20kg DW x €5.00/kg DW x 200 = €4,000.
Photo credit: Galway Agri Videos

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