Colum Woods, from Hilltown, in Co Down runs an extensive flock of Blackface and Lleyn cross ewes. The focus of the business is to produce high quality ewe replacements for lowland flocks.
“We have been using Lleyn rams over recent years, in order to improve the prolificacy of the ewes. And it’s an approach that is working,” said Colum.
“Lambing starts in mid-April. The flock was scanned back in February this year and the results have confirmed that the ewes are carrying an average of 1.7 lambs per head. If we can convert this into real numbers on the ground, then it will get the 2016 production year off to a great start. All our lambs are sold live during the autumn months.”
Colum explained that the ewes are taken off the surrounding hills in October. They are then allowed to graze the lowland areas, close to the farm yard, throughout the winter and early spring months.
“All the ewes lamb outdoors,” he confirmed.
“It is crucially important for newborn lambs to be given the best possible start. The overall production target for the flock is to obtain the maximum growth rates possible from grazed grass.”
Colum also recognises the need to worm his stock effectively. He adheres to the SCOPS principals (Sustainable Control of Parasites in Sheep) protocols and works closely with his vet in this regard.
“Dectomax injection is used as a pre lambing treatment for ewes in the early Spring, prior to going out on to the hill. Following SCOPS guidelines, the pre lambing dose is targeted to triplets and thin ewes, where a pre lambing treatment will reduce the pasture contamination with worm eggs ,” he said.
“Of equal importance to me is the fact that Dectomax also prevents and treats scab. Dipping for scab is no longer mandatory and I have found that it can become a problem if the required preventative measures are not put in place When using Dectomax injection to control scab, the whole group is treated at the same time to make sure that no mites survive.”
Elanco’s Bill Ferris was a recent visitor to the Woods’ farm. He confirmed that large numbers of farmers in Northern Ireland use Dectomax for the treatment and control of Psoroptes ovis (sheep scab mite) and for the treatment and control of gastrointesinal roundworms.
Careful consideration is paid to prevent re-infection with scab mites by adhering to the guidelines on the data sheet.
“Dectomax continues to grow in popularity,” Bill explained.
“Local sheep farmers use Dectomax as part of their parasite control plan.
“Dectomax Injection has been used by local sheep producers, as it provides a single intramuscular treatment option for both scab and internal worms.”
Bill concluded: “Sheep production has been a profitable enterprise here in Northern Ireland for the past number of years. However, there is absolutely no room for complacency.
“Margins will only be maximised by ensuring that growth rates and overall performance levels are secured. This is why it is so important to prevent scab and implement an effective worming strategy within every flock.”