Neil McGill of Donemana has a clear view of both the Sperrin Mountains and what he needs to achieve in order to make his (250 strong) flock profitable. The ewes which are predominantly Suffolk crosses are all bred to a Texel ram and run alongside Neil’s 40 cow suckler enterprise. The McGill’s find the use of the Texel sires, with a continued policy of regular reseeding, ensures the lambs – which are all finished off grass during the summer - achieve very high growth rates and regularly achieve top prices when sold through the local livestock market in Donemana. The first lambs will be sold by the end of June every year. Neil is a firm believer in the statement that “it’s the number of lambs you sell that makes the profit,” and with a 212% at scanning, even with some inevitable losses, lamb sales should be noteworthy this season. Neil consistently achieves a percentage of over 200 which is testimony to his good management of ewes at tupping time. The strong focus on reseeding allows high quality swards to be prioritised for the ewes at this important time of the year. Having been housed for four weeks already, ewes with triplets are currently receiving 0.5kg/day of Ewelac nuts building up to 1.5kg in the two weeks before lambing. The aim is then to turn out ewes and lambs to grass 24-48 hours after lambing if possible, depending on weather conditions.
The McGill’s are very aware of the importance of getting lambs off to a good start and the role that Vitamin E and Selenium plays in this. “We have fed Thompsons’ Ewelac Nuts now for many years and it has consistently shown us the benefits of high levels of Vitamin E and the protected selenium source Selplex in terms of the liveliness of lambs at birth and improved lamb viability,” says Neil. “We have also found that ewes have ample milk which is crucial to the survival and growth of a flock with such a high lambing percentage on this terrain,” adds Neil.
Everything is in place for another successful lambing season at the McGill farm. To make sure this is the case with your flock contact your local Thompsons’ representative or ring; (028) 9035 1321.
Feeding ewes for profit – Thompsons’ Technical Adviser Mary-Jane Robinson gives some valuable advice on feeding sheep this winter.
Profitability in any sheep enterprise is ultimately determined by the number of lambs reared per ewe. With this in mind and lambing season rapidly approaching the management and correct feeding of the ewe is vital to ensure we maximise profit. Last year proved to be a difficult year given the cold snowy weather conditions and this year will undoubtedly have its own challenges. Wet ground conditions on many farms is hampering grass growth and creating subsequent problems such as fluke. These factors all affect the body condition of ewes and their performance as lambing time approaches. Key points to consider in ewe nutrition are as follows; the scanning and batching of ewes is vital according to single, twin, or triplet bearing ewes. Monitoring of body condition score and feeding accordingly will help reduce problems of both under and over feeding. Underfeeding in the last six weeks of pregnancy can put the ewe under severe pressure in terms of protein and energy requirements as the lamb does the final 70% of its growing. At this critical phase rumen space is naturally reduced suppressing the ewe’s intakes. If nutrition is inadequate at this stage it can lead to problems such as thin ewes, poor supply of quality colostrum in the right amounts, poor milk yield, twin lamb disease, small weak lambs and potentially higher lamb losses.
Analysing forage quality is vital as it will give an indication of the feed rates required for single, twin or triplet bearing ewes. Vitamin E and selenium levels are both crucial as they are known for their ability to encourage lively lambs. Protected selenium (Selplex) inclusion will also reduce the risk of white muscle disease and enhance colostrum quality for the new born lamb. Where higher feed rates of compound are required, ewes should have feed rates split over two feeds each day. Fresh silage should be fed daily and adequate feed space is important so that dry matter intakes are not restricted.
Thompsons’ ewe feed range is designed to meet the nutritional needs of ewes by promoting health, lamb survivability and performance. For further information please contact your local Thompsons’ representative, call (028) 9035 1321.
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