Torrential rains have taken their toll on out wintered ewes

Crystalyx's David Morgan (right) out on a farm with members of the Woods' family from Hilltown in Co Down
Crystalyx's David Morgan (right) out on a farm with members of the Woods' family from Hilltown in Co Down

The fortnight up to the New Year saw parts of Northern Ireland receive the equivalent of an entire winter’s rainfall.

This has left pregnant ewes coping with the torrents of rain coming from above and fast deteriorating ground conditions.

The Met Office has confirmed that it will take weeks for ground conditions to improve across many parts of Northern Ireland. And this prediction assumes a return to more normal weather patterns.

As a result of all this, out wintered pregnant ewes are fighting a battle on two fronts: keeping warm – given the fact that their fleeces have become totally sodden with the heavy rain – and extracting sufficient nutrition from the very low dry matter grasses now available to them.

“The core challenge facing ewes under current circumstances is that of maximising fresh grass intakes,” explained David Morgan of Caltech Crystalyx.

“This is the key to allowing them secure the forage dry matter levels they need to meet their own nutritional needs and those of the lambs they are carrying.

“And it is in this context that the Crystalyx High Energy feed tubs for sheep can play a crucial role.

“They represent a highly palatable and concentrated form of energy, high quality protein, minerals, trace elements and vitamins, acting to improve the efficiency of the rumen.

“At the very heart of this process is the stimulus given to the microbe populations in the rumen. In turn this speeds up the digestion process, thereby allowing ewes to increase their daily consumption levels of fresh grass. And this, of course, determines overall dry matter intakes.”

Morgan confirmed that ewes must be kept in top condition in the run-up to lambing.

“Loss of condition while pregnant will jeopardise placental development and reduce body reserves available for milk production,” he said.

“Trials conducted at Newcastle University found that ewes with access to Crystalyx Extra High Energy maintained better condition than ewes on grass alone, and their lambs subsequently had a 5% higher growth rate.

“Offering the High Energy tubs to ewes now will also have a very beneficial impact on the quality of the ewes’ milk post lambing.

“This reflects the quality of the protein contained within the feed blocks.”

He concluded: “Crystalyx Extra High Energy is a feed tub that can be used all year round to provide supplementation for ewes, rams and lambs. High in protein, energy and with a full complement of minerals, trace elements and vitamins, Extra High Energy and forage can be all you need to operate a highly effective and profitable sheep rearing system.”