Ewe management improves flock performance

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Introducing new ideas and concepts can be daunting for farmers. But for one Worcestershire based sheep farmer, trying something new has resulted in significant performance and economic returns.

Sam Jones runs a flock of 1,250 North Country Mules on his family farm in Redditch. A targeted ewe management plan has allowed him to focus on a strategic sourcing and seasonal health management programme.

“We are not afraid of trying something new here,” says Mr Jones. “We have a target of meeting a 200% lamb sale rate. Currently we are at 197% but by trying new ideas we are hoping to push this figure up.”

Employing a routine health management plan has contributed to Mr Jones’ strong ewe performance. “About two weeks prior to ewes joining the tup, we drench with the Nettex Sheep Conditioning Drench. As a result we have noticed a real difference in ewes retaining condition over the winter.

“We started drenching ewes and yearlings with the product about four years ago and haven’t looked back. Conception rates have improved year-on-year and we have had strong lambing percentages,” says Mr Jones.

“This year, yearlings scanned at 190% and ewes at 214% which is very promising.

“Drenching has proven to be a cost-effective approach to ensuring ewes are in the best condition possible prior to tupping. We’ve seen the benefit in the bottom line,” he adds.

Mr Jones sells the majority of wether lambs through Farmers Fresh. Ewe lambs are sold directly off farm. He buys in stock each year to maintain numbers and bring in new genetics. “Our sourcing programme means we don’t breed our own replacements but buy in about 230 ewe lambs each year.

“We aim to give everything a chance to lamb. If any ewes over three years old have prolapsed or had any other issues we generally cull them. Any ailments, during lambing are recorded using EID, so we can cull at the end of the year helping to maximise output and maintain efficiency,” he says.

With rams now running with the ewes, Mr Jones is planning ahead to the 2015 sheep calendar. “It is key that we maintain ewe condition to ensure we achieve the performance we want and support our investment. By dosing with sheep conditioning drench, I can be re-assured that we have given stock that extra boost to help support them through the winter.”

With the next lambing season fast approaching, Mr Jones is looking forward to seeing the results of his flock management and attention to detail, to achieve his target of 200% lambs sold.