Edzell Event Messages for Sheep Farmers Timely

Published Wednesday, 31st October 2012 in SAC Consulting news

Sheep and lambs in field

Sheep farmers readying their flocks for the season ahead had access to expert advice at the recent event near Edzell in Angus.

Organised by staff from the Forfar and Stonehaven Offices of SAC Consulting (a Division of SRUC, Scotland‘s Rural College) the discussions focussed on planning and attention to detail in the run up to tupping time.

As Jane Fowlie, from the Forfar Office, explained;

“Ewes in poor condition produce and rear fewer lambs, identifying and managing the factors that reduce ewe condition will improve the economic returns to the farm business.”

After a difficult grazing season and with winter fodder supplies limited sheep specialist Dr John Vipond emphasised condition scoring of ewes as a management tool. Grouping sheep according to an assessment of their fat reserves helped farmers control how best to utilise the supplementary feeding available. With stocks limited and costs rising wasting feed on ewes that don’t need it is bad practice.

For David Gibson of SAC Consulting Veterinary Services in Perth, the emphasis was on foot care. The wet year had seen an increase in foot rot and other diseases and he explained how to identify them and outlined treatment options. In some instances the cost of foot rot in a flock could be at least £15 a ewe and it was important that farmers make the correct diagnosis and chose an appropriate treatment programme. While paring away the infected areas of the hoof was a traditional approach it was not always required and other treatments may be more suitable. David also stressed the importance of not cutting too much off the hoof, which could affect the sheep’s mobility.

Ewe lameness, parasites like fluke, sheep tick and sheep scab all impact on ewe condition. All the speakers stressed that Identifying problems and managing ewes to prevent and eliminate these as issues greatly improves the economic return from the ewe flock. With Liver Fluke increasing in Angus there was discussion on control programmes and an explanation of the Fluke life cycle. 

The organisers wish to thank Gordon Cairns of Stracathro and Carriston Estates who hosted the event at Tillyarblet, Glen Lethnot. SRUC acknowledges the support of Scottish Government.

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