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Tech Talk: 8-Week Flock Management

Lamb Nutrient Requirement

At 6 weeks of age, transitioning lambs onto a compound feed can be done to help support growth, particularly where quality grass is short. Growing lambs eat between 2-4% of their bodyweight as dry matter, for example, a 30kg lamb will eat between 0.6 – 1.2kg DM per day.

Growth rates and KPIs

  • Target DLWG of 250-300g/day.
  • If growth rates are dropping below 200g/day, consider weaning lambs and moving to better quality pasture.
  • At the age of 8 weeks, lambs should be achieving a liveweight of 18-21kg.
  • Target for creep feeding systems is to sell 60% of lamb crop before weaning (12 weeks of age).

 

Ewe management

The 8-week mark gives an opportunity to look at the ewes, giving an indication of the health and condition of the flock for the forthcoming production cycle. A key consideration for ewes at this period is to put in place a plan to ensure ewes are at the correct BCS for mating (BCS 2.5-3.0):

  • Wean lambs in time to allow recovery of BCS by mating, this should be a minimum of 10 weeks.
  • Plan grazing- offer the best grazing for the lowest BCS ewes.
  • Assess groups every 3 weeks at a minimum (ideally twice a month).

SHEARING:

Shearing can be a stressful and exciting time of year, to get a clean visual of the condition of the flock and some reduced stress and paranoia of flystrike, and ewes getting stuck on their back. Management of sheep at this time should be done thoughtfully; ensuring a minimal stress environment for all parties involved- including the sheep! It is also important to not forget that although shearing reduces the risk of flystrike, application of treatment will still be required to prevent infection and to maintain the health and welfare of the flock.

The NSA encourage people to use the shearing register set up with NAAC and British Wool to provide an online shearing register to help UK contractors and UK Shearers link up, available here: https://www.naac.co.uk/jobs/shearingregister/. The NSA has set up a complimentary list for farmers and shearers to connect on a more moderate scale which you can find here: https://www.nationalsheep.org.uk/shearing-list/

For more information on flock feeding management, view the AHDB guide HERE.


Source: NSA| NADIS| SCOPS| Teagasc| AHDB

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