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Innovation in Ewe Management: Science into Practice

Published Wednesday, 29th October 2014 in SAC Consulting news

Ewe Management Event - Automated Shedder and Weigh Crate

A recent Innovation in Ewe Management event, organised at Alyth by SAC Consulting, used the lessons learned from SRUC research to focus on practical ways to improve sheep flock efficiency and returns.

The talks and demonstrations were provided by Euan Hart (Manager of the SAC Consulting Office in Forfar) together with researchers from Scotland’s Rural College, Jo Conington, Jos Houdijk and Claire Morgan-Davies.

Four main topics were highlighted on the day:

  • The benefits to be gained from breeding and selection in the flock.
  • The nutrition of the ewe, before and during pregnancy, and the implications for the lamb.
  • Novel approaches to controlling internal parasites.
  • The flock management benefits to be gained from the use of Electronic Identification (EID) tagging and associated weighing and handling technology.

Hosting the event at Incheoch Farm near Alyth in Blairgowrie were the McGowan family. It provided an excellent setting for an interesting and interactive day full of lively discussion across all these topics. At approximately 1200 acres the farm ranges from 400 to 700 feet above sea level and has an annual rainfall of 38” to 46”. Most of the farm is fairly heavy loam down to permanent grass or rough grazing, but about 500 acres is made up of younger leys including some red clover for silage and lamb finishing.

There are three enterprises – cattle, sheep and arable – with the cropping land contract farmed by a local farmer. The 220 cow cattle herd – mainly Luings together with 50 Simmentals and a few Angus - is in the SAC Consulting Premium Cattle Health Scheme and the plan is to achieve accredited status for BVD and Johne’s Disease.

The main focus of the day concerned the management of the sheep flock of 1000 Lleyn ewes and a small flock of Texel ewes. Although pedigree, both flocks are run on commercial lines, performance is recorded and selection for easy-care and ewe efficiency traits is made throughout the year. Host farmer Neil McGowan is a firm believer in EID and recording information for commercial benefit - all of which is clearly borne out in the performance of the flocks and the quality of the stock produced.

The event was supported by Scottish Funding Council and its Success Through Knowledge programme. 

Photo caption: The automated shedder and weigh crate proved a big feature of interest on the day.

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