Sheep - Things to do this Month - November

SHEEP – for a March/April lambing flock:

Adjust the following dates for earlier/later lambing flocks, and see last month’s guidance for later lambing flocks.

  • tupped-eweIf you haven’t introduced the ram already, he should join the ewes during the first week of November in order to produce early April lambs – remember, the average pregnancy lasts 147 days (approximately 5 months).
  • We have a great article by top sheep vet, Chris Lewis, which clearly explains how to identify tupping dates and the best way to achieve a tight lambing HERE
  • Each morning, check ewes for raddle marks and record each ewe’s number as she is marked to give you a good idea of individual lambing dates.
  • If you plan to pregnancy scan, the best time is between 40-90 days – so book soon to ensure the operator can visit your flock on the appropriate date. Scanning will tell you whether the ewe is pregnant, and whether she’s expecting a single, or multiple lambs – you can then feed appropriately to keep her at the ideal body condition score throughout her pregnancy.
  • Have a look at our Expert Article by specialist sheep vet Agnes Winter on the importance of monitoring body condition through the winter; a vital element in producing healthy lambs next spring.
  • BE VIGILANT FOR FLUKE, which appears to be spreading to areas where it is not normally prevalent. At this time of year you are likely to encounter the acute stage of Liver Fluke. Any sudden loss of condition or unexplained death should be investigated. Later signs of sub-acute disease include lethargy, anaemia (identified by pale mucous membranes), poor body condition, poor fleece quality and reduced grazing. Chronic fascioliasis can be detected in faecal samples; acute and sub-acute disease is diagnosed though blood samples that will show raised liver enzymes. If sheep graze wet pastures and you suspect infection, consider dosing, and choose your drench carefully to make sure it is effective against the early immature fluke stage of the disease. For a complete explanation of the complex lifecycle and treatment of this disease, (click here) to watch a video presented by Michaela Strachan.
  • Watch out for itchy sheep at this time of year – if you spot a sheep rubbing itself on a fence post, this may be a sign of scab. Ask your vet to take skin scrapings to confirm the diagnosis, and if positive treat the whole flock immediately and talk to neighbouring flock owners to make them aware of this serious and increasing disease threat.
  • Hopefully, most of this year’s lambs will be away by now, but if you have any that are a bit behind and you’re running short of grazing, consider selling them (privately or at market) as ‘stores’ to farmers who have sufficient grass to over-winter them. Alternatively, if you have sufficient grass, produce them as ‘hogget’ for next spring.