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Nutrition, schemes and health focus at ICSA Sheep Seminar

Feb 15, 2016 | ICSA in the Media | 0 comments

Farmers Journal – 13 February, 2016

By Nathan Tuffy
  • There was a good crowd at the ICSA Sheep Seminar in Ballybofey.
    There was a good crowd at the ICSA Sheep Seminar in Ballybofey.
Last week’s Irish Cattle and Sheep Association (ICSA) Sheep Seminar in Ballybofey, Co. Donegal saw a strong crowd attend. The first speaker on the night was Dr Tim Keady, Teagasc.

Last week’s Irish Cattle and Sheep Association (ICSA) Sheep Seminar in Ballybofey, Co Donegal, saw a strong crowd attend. The first speaker on the night was Dr Tim Keady, Teagasc.

Nutrition in late pregnancy

Keady said that in the last six weeks of pregnancy, the foetal membranes, fluid and the lamb grow by 70%. He said that for every 0.5kg increase in lamb birth weight, this translates into 1.7kg of weaning weight. He said that the optimum live weight at birth for a single lamb is 6kg, it is 5.5kg for twins and 4.5kg for triplets. He focused on the need to have good-quality silage on the farm showing that supplementation in the last six weeks of pregnancy can be reduced from 20kg of concentrates to 5kg of concentrates where silage quality is approximately 77DMD.


Keady said that there are significant benefits for keeping ram lambs entire. He showed data from a study in Athenry which showed that leaving lambs entire versus castration lead to labs being 1.8kg heavier at slaughter, and slaughter occurred 16 days earlier where lambs were left entire. He said that the castrated lamb would require about 17kg of concentrates extra to achieve the same level of performance as an entire ram lamb. The study was completed where grassland management were kept at optimum right through to slaughter.

He showed details of a trail completed in Athenry in 2015 which showed that there was no significant difference on flavour of the castrate lambs versus the entire lambs and that the meat from entire lambs was slightly more tender.

Supplementation for triplet lambs

To produce triplet lambs to the same weight as a ewe with twin lambs would require an additional 85kg concentrates, according to studies conducted at Athenry. In late pregnancy, ewes with triplets need an additional 7kg of concentrates over a ewe carrying twins. In the first five weeks of lactation, the ewes with triplets need 0.5kg/day of supplementation and lambs require up to 300g/day per head during finishing. In total the 85kg of additional supplementation accounts to about €25 of additional cost.


Keith Tompson, adviser with Edward Browne Ltd, detailed some of the key issues and questions arising out of TAMS II. He said that the current tranche is open until 25 March. For those who submit applications, all supporting documentation needs to be submitted within 10 days of the application. For new applicants, applications cannot be made until a valid BPS application is submitted. He reminded the crowd that the minimum investment is €2,000 and the maximum grant is €80,000 for a single farmer and up to €160,000 for a partnership. He said that in most cases planning permission or a letter of exemption is required from the county council. He said that the sheep fencing grant which was promised previously is not yet available but it should be coming on board soon.

ICSA’s sheep chair John Brooks said that the organisation doesn’t collect levies or have any financial investments – it depends on membership. He said that falling ewe numbers across Europe could see the need for reintroduction of a ewe premium. However, he highlighted the pitfalls of this, saying that an increase in supply could have a severe negative effect on price. On the issue of live exports, he said that more needs to be done in this area to reduce the quarantine period. He called for an EU-based meat industry regulator to look at ‘’who gets what out of our produce’’. He said that Hogan is currently looking favourably on this and welcomed similar calls from other farming organisations.

The final speaker on the night was John Gilmore, Farm Lab Diagnostics, a Roscommon-based company. Gilmore said that resistance is a growing issues in sheep flocks. You can no longer assume that by giving a wormer that the animal is treated, as the wormer may not work on all the parasites. He said that the thinking has changed on management, it is no longer a case of treating and moving to fresh pasture, as this is actually increased the selection for resistant worms.

He advised farmers to rotate products and not just product names, but active ingredients. He said that when dosing, alternate between levamisole (yellow drench), Bendimidazoles (white drench) and Averectins (clear drench) to avoid building resistance.

He challenged farmers on the dosing regimes; a new way of thinking is to treat animals and not move on straight away to new clean pasture, and to explore the option of not treating every animal so that non-resistant worms continue to be picked up.

Liver fluke

He said that the highest-risk fluke period is from June to November and most noticeable damage is seen late in the year. He warned that with the mild winter, there could be a carryover of liver fluke into the spring. He told farmers to fence off wet areas and ponds where possible to reduce the contact with mud snails. He told farmers that migrating fluke within the animal can trigger clostridium, so to watch out for clostridial disease as an indicator for fluke also.

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