Running a prosperous flock of pedigree sheep requires hard work and dedication throughout the year. But for one prize-winning Co. Down flock, attention to detail around lambing time is really paying off. Looking after a 220 cow dairy herd alongside 300 ewes - the majority of which are pedigree - means there is never a dull moment for Drew Cowan, and his sons Stephen and Andrew. Yet they have managed to establish one of the most successful pedigree flocks in the country. The Cowan family’s Tullyear Charollais flock, located just off the A1 at Banbridge, sold more than 100 breeding rams last year, picking up several Championships and Reserve Championships at shows and sales along the way. But if that wasn’t enough, the Cowans also rounded off a very successful year with their Tullyear Flock winning the NI Charollais Sheep Society’s ‘Flock of the Year 2018’ award, at the annual flock competition.This year’s lambing is already in full swing for the Cowan family, with 200 ewes having lambed down between 1st December 2018 and the end of January 2019. A later-lambing batch of 100 ewes are due to commence lambing
around 10th March. To-date, lambing has gone very well, with the early-lambing ewes currently averaging 1.65 lambs-at-foot. An abundance of grass plus excellent ground conditions at the end of 2018, meant the Cowans were able to keep their ewes outside until one week before lambing, which greatly reduced their workload.Coming into the lambing shed, the ewes were housed on a deep straw bed and moved onto a hay/haylage-based diet. For the last four weeks before lambing, ewes were fed 0.5kg/day Thompsons’ Ewelac Nuts, and once again Drew has been impressed by how ewes have performed on this ration. “I’ve fed Ewelac Nuts for years because I know they are guaranteed to perform,” says Drew. “This year the ewes have lambed down with very few problems. Lambs are a good size and have been up and sucking almost immediately. And milk supply has been excellent, which is especially important for us. With cows calving at the same time, we need to be sure the ewes can do as much of the rearing as possible. Plus lambs that need bottle feeding never seem to get off to the best start.” Straw prices are at an all-time high this year, and Drew admits it was tempting to cut back on bedding, but in the end he decided against it. “Lambs need a good, clean bed to stop infections and to keep them warm, especially during December and January,” says Drew. “If they don’t get off to a good start, they won’t perform later on, so it’s a false economy. With plenty of milk and straw, we’ve had no health issues with our lambs so far, and hopefully that will continue.” The first of this season’s Tullyear lamb crop are currently grazing some reseeded pasture and are already starting to show their potential.The Thompsons’ range of Ewe Nuts are designed to make sure your lambs get off to the best possible start in life. Based on a foundation of quality cereals (maize and wheat) to maximize energy intake, and hi-pro soyabean meal to drive milk yield and colostrum quality, the Thompsons range also supplies digestible fibre to maintain rumen health, optimal levels of vitamins, minerals and trace elements, plus additional vitamin E for improved lamb vigour.
To find out more about how the Thompsons’ Ewe Range can help make lambing in 2019 a success for you, or for practical advice on feeding your ewes, contact your local Thompsons’ Sales Representative or phone the mill on; 028 9035 1321.
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