Sheep Diary - Lambs diet, shearing ewe lambs, footbathing and more!


On this week’s installment of ‘Sheep Diary’ with Matthew Kehoe, some of the ewe lambs receive a shearing and a footbath, whilst Matthew discusses diet for the lambs, housing, shows and sales prep, and wool.

Sheep Diary - Lambs diet, shearing ewe lambs, footbathing and more!

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On this week’s installment of ‘Sheep Diary’ with Matthew Kehoe, some of the ewe lambs receive a shearing and a footbath, whilst Matthew discusses diet for the lambs, housing, shows and sales prep, and wool.

On the lamb front, our 2018 batch of lambs currently have access to ad lib 17% protein cooked crunch, but consumption levels are still rather low.

Therefore, the focus still remains on the milking ewe’s feed requirements, as most of the lamb’s nutrition is still coming from milk. Most of the ewes have yet to reach peak milk yield so are still receiving concentrates twice per day. This will be slowly reduced in the coming weeks until they are released to pasture.

This weekend we sheared and housed our replacement ewe lambs. After shearing they are given a footbath in a formaldehyde solution before entering the shed as a precaution against scald. Fortunately, the weather was in our favour and the whole operation ran like clockwork.

The decision to shear and house the ewe lambs at this time of year is based around both grassland management and the pedigree show and sales. At this stage of the year, any paddocks not already closed up for releasing ewes and lambs onto have been grazed out by the ewe lambs. While housing will give the ground a break it has, in turn, increased the number of housed sheep. This will then, of course, increase our daily straw, haylage and labour requirement overnight.

Early shearing allows these ewes to regrow a good cover of wool for the shows and sales, while also allowing me to get a better idea of their confirmation and body condition. From there, I can begin to select animals to be retained as replacements, those that will be suitable for the pedigree sales and those who would be better finished than sold as breeding stock.

As I have limited storage space for wool, I like to have it sold as soon as possible after bagging. In any case with the wool market as it is and no lift in prices forecast for the foreseeable future, I see no point in holding onto it for a moment longer than necessary, only to be spoiled by mice and damp.

At 55c a kilo, shearing is simply good practice for animal welfare these days, despite what some of the more vocal, ill-informed groups of ‘activists’ would have you believe.

Lamb Price Update - Feb 11th - According to the National Sheep Chairman of the IFA, Sean Dennehy, has noted that the lamb trade remains strong, with prices ranging from €5.50 to €5.60 per kg and up to top prices of €5.70 per kg for larger lots.

Mr. Dennehy said prices are currently running about 20-25cents/kg in comparison to last year’s prices. The National Sheep Chair said the weekly kill have dropped back to 44,035 for the week ending on February 5th, a significant drop from the 52,081 killed in the same period of 2018.

He also noted that Hogget and lamb numbers are also down by almost 8,000 this year, from 43,021 to 35,414. Ewe kill numbers are down by 5% to 8,620.

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