Ensuring that his ewes lamb down with lots of high quality of colostrum and plenty of milk to follow is a critical flock management priority for Broughshane flock owner Richard Hood.
The sheep producer and practising veterinarian is very aware of the need to give lambs the best possible start.
“The flock comprises mainly of Mule ewes and hoggets, which are crossed with either Texel or Suffolk rams,” he said.
“The resulting lambs are well capable of holding their own when put out to grass shortly after birth. They also have the potential to achieve excellent growth rates, provided they have had the right level of high quality colostrum when they are born and access to plenty of high-quality milk from their mothers thereafter.”
The entire Hood flock lambs down during a ten day period, commencing on March 1st.
“Condensing the lambing season to as tight a time-period as possible also fits-in with my work schedule as a vet and I put teaser rams with the flock to help keep this tight,” Richard added.
“I have had a good start to the new year. The ewes have scanned at 207%. That’s 20% up on last year. The challenge now is one of converting this potential into reality when it comes to getting actual lambs on the ground.”
Richard attributes this year’s fertility boost to the excellent condition of the ewes at tupping plus the first-time use of a selenium/iodine bolus on the ewes prior to the start of the breeding season.
The entire flock was housed this year at the beginning of January. The ewes have been grouped according to those carrying singles, twins and triplets.
“Normally, the flock would not have been housed until the beginning of February. But the ground conditions this year didn’t allow this. The ewes are now on a diet comprising first cut silage and nuts fed according to the number of lambs they are carrying.”
Richard uses United Feeds’ Super Ewe Nuts prior to lambing.
“The ewes thrive on it,” he confirmed.
“Colostrum quality is excellent, as is milk quantity. In addition, the lambs are born with tremendous vitality. I attribute this, for the most part to the quality of the diet fed to the ewes before lambing.
“The Super Ewe nuts are also made available to the ewes after lambing, again to maintain milk yields and quality.”
United Feeds’ Sam Watson was a recent visitor to the Hood farm.
“The ewe nuts ensure that the mothers receive the required nutritional boost in the run up to lambing,” he said.
“They contain the ideal balance of starch, fibre and protein along with all the vitamins and minerals required by the ewe. Selenium in the form of Sel-Plex is also included in the formulation. This will help boost immunity levels in the ewe as well as enhancing colostrum quality, thereby getting lambs off to the best possible start.”
Sam was quick to point out that a freshly lambed ewe must have plenty of milk and added:
“This can only be achieved by ensuring that she is properly fed in the six weeks up to lambing. Farm experience across Northern Ireland confirms that United Feeds’ range of Ewe nuts will allow this requirement to be met in full.”
For more detail on feeding your flock this winter contact your local United Feeds Adviser or Customer Services on 028 9075 9000.