Sheep - Things to do this Month - July

SHEEP – for a March/April lambing flock:

  • lambs-12wks-2014GRAZING: The ideal grass height for ewes is between 4-8cms, as it grows longer it loses a lot of its nutritional value, so you may need to top the fields to maintain the optimum sward
  • EAR-TAGGING: If you haven’t already ear tagged the lambs, make sure this is done before they reach 6 months of age – be aware of EID regulations when ordering tags (the merchant should be able to advise you if you’re in any doubt)
  • WEANING: Wean lambs from 12 weeks. If they’re nearing slaughter weight consider leaving them with the ewe for up to 16 weeks as following weaning they generally experience a check in their growth – but make sure you allow plenty of time for ewes to recover condition before this year’s tupping
  • Lambs should be weaned onto clean pasture (eg. the aftermath following cutting for silage/haylage or hay) as stress of weaning can make lambs more susceptible to parasites), ideally with a sward height of 6-8cm to avoid them losing condition
  • It’s less stressful to remove the ewes and leave the lambs in the same paddock, but the lambs must have clean, good grazing – so make your decision based on the grazing you have available
  • Ideally, move ewes and lambs out of earshot of one another
  • Ewes should go onto poorer pasture, to help them dry off quickly, which will help avoid mastitis
  • PARASITES:Carry out an FEC for lambs (a pooled sample will give a good picture of the level of the worm burden) soon after weaning to determine whether dosing is required – and always ask your vet if in any doubt
  • If you’re in any doubt about your worming/dosing technique, watch this short video featuring SCOPS expert Lesley Stubbings showing Adam Henson the correct way to drench

Continue to monitor the flock:

  • LAMENESS – treat promptly to prevent infection being spread on pasture (the bacteria that causes footrot can survive on pastures for 14 days or more, especially in wet, warm weather) – see our article on combating lameness in the summer edition of “Practical Sheep, Goats & Alpacas” magazine
  • If you need to get lambs up to slaughter weight quickly, or if you’re short of grazing, you can give them supplementary feed, but beware feeding excessive amounts of cereals, especially to ram lambs that can develop urinary calculi (stones) if overfed
  • MASTITIS – monitor ewes closely, apparent lameness on a hind leg could be a sign of mastitis; check udders for heat, swelling and discolouration, and if abnormal act fast to prevent permanent damage, and possible loss of the ewe
  • Provide shade for all stock if possible, especially rams
  • Watch sheep carefully for signs of flystrike and other external parasites – even if you have treated with a long-acting insecticide, you still need to keep alert. Lambs with ‘wagging’ tails is a classic sign that they have been ‘struck’ and may be infested with maggots – act quickly to prevent damage, or in severe cases, death of the affected animal(s).
  • Be aware of ‘Meat Withdrawal Periods’ when giving any medicines or treatments to lambs intended for slaughter
  • The 2nd programme in our DVD series, “Managing Your Flock for Peak Health” describes the management practices you can put into practice on your smallholding to protect your flock from both internal and external parasites.
  • Get used to handling and condition scoring lambs destined for slaughter on a regular basis so that you can tell when they are ready to go. (You can see Adam Henson demonstrating how to do this on our short video)