Making best use of grass is the core driver for Hilltown sheep producer Colm Woods, who runs a flock of Lleyn cross Blackface ewes. He farms with his father Paddy.
A mix of New Zealand Texel, Suffolk and Belclare rams are used on the flock to allow Colm produce the mix of replacements, store and finished lambs he needs to maintain the business.
“The rams go in at the beginning of November, which primes the flock for a lambing date around the beginning of April,” Colm explained
“We have, traditionally, followed a policy of lambing the ewes in April. This is feasible given the milder weather and the fact that there is plenty of grass on the farm at that time of the year.”
He continued: “The farm has been set up to ensure that the sheep can secure the highest possible levels of performance from grazed grass.
“Lambs for sale are sent for slaughter or put into the sale ring as stores.”
Colm is very mindful of the need to supplementary feed ewes in the run up to breeding and lambing. As part of this programme he traditionally puts Crystalyx Extra High Energy sheep buckets out with the ewes.
“They represent a valuable source of additional energy,” he said.
“But they also allow the sheep to make best use of the grass that is available to them throughout the year.”
David Morgan, from Caltech Crystalyx, was a recent visitor to the Woods’ farm.
He explained that Crystalyx Extra High Energy is a feed tub that can be used all year round to provide supplementation for ewes, rams and lambs.
“The tubs are high in protein, energy and with a full complement of minerals, trace elements and vitamins,” he said.
“Extra High Energy buckets and forage can be all that’s required to operate a highly effective and profitable sheep rearing system.”
David added: “Loss of condition in ewes while pregnant will jeopardise placental development and reduce body reserves available for milk production. Trials conducted at Newcastle University found that ewes with access to Crystalyx Extra High Energy buckets maintained better condition than ewes on forage alone. In addition, their lambs subsequently had a 5% higher growth rate.”