Heading into a new year is a great time to get your planning in for the months ahead. Weather is just one thing to factor in and looking back at November and December, it felt very inconsistent – warm one minute, snow the next. However, all these inconsistencies mean it is even more important to keep on top of your flock’s health.
Each flock, whether it’s a small number of breeding ewes to a sizeable number of stores, have their own specific demands and risk factors to consider when planning for the year. Red Tractor requirements have recently changed, and now include that a flock health plan must be reviewed and signed annually. This should be an opportunity to get your vet fully involved to create an individualised plan for your needs and can help you tackle areas that are prominent in the industry including, reducing antibiotic use, reducing reliance on anthelmintics and minimising lameness.
There are a few health considerations that should be part of your flock plan. The calendar on the right is based on a breeding flock lambing in April. There are a few other Red Tractor changes to make note of; including the recommendation that at least one person on farm has undertaken a medicine training course. Most veterinary practices will run these, and current thinking on antibiotic resistance and ways you can reduce usage on your farm will be discussed.
Parasites, and the control of them, are too numerous to expand on in great detail in this article, but there is a real drive to reduce anthelmintic use as resistance is ramping up. The Sustainable Control of Parasites (SCOPS) website can be a great resource to utilise, from the Nematodirus forecast, quarantine protocols and the principles used to help streamline your wormer usage whilst improving your flock health.
With the recent changes in the sheep industry, there is no better time to revisit your flock calendar and look for opportunities to increase sheep health, your profit, and engage with your vets to make use of the flock planning opportunity to the max. If you’ve got to do it, make it a worthwhile activity for everyone involved.
For more information or advice on maximising your ewe and lamb performance year-round, get in touch with your local NWF Sales Specialist, call 0800 756 2787 or view our range of feeds & associated products HERE.
Article by Hannah Fitzsimmonds, Associate Vet and LLM Farm Vets.