In the summer we had call from Eriu, a new Irish company who buy wool directly from farmers and create various products.
hey asked had we any Bluefaced Leicester fleeces for sale — their wool is renowned for being soft and fine and is suited to making clothing.
We were delighted to see a great natural product being used the way it should be. They recently sent us a hat made using wool from our farm, and we look forward to working with them again.
We are currently organising genotype tags for our new stock rams and for some other sheep. As we are part of Lambplus through Sheep Ireland, we can order through this platform.
The genotyping can tell us the exact parentage of the sheep, the resistance they have to scrapie and provide more accuracy to recording figures.
I recently attended a Sheep Ireland meeting regarding Lambplus and the new Sheep Improvement Scheme (SIS), which has been met with mixed views.
Ultimately, though, there is a willingness to improve genetics. Using figures from recorded sheep to help select a ram is nothing new — many farms in New Zealand and Australia use them to choose traits such as milkier ewes or lambs quicker to finish.
This technology can help improve a farm set-up.
Genotyping will give farmers a clearer picture of what they are buying, with the ram’s parents both verified. It will make it easier to identify genetics that are performing better on hills or lowland.
The genotyping will also improve resistance to scrapie across the country.
With feed costs at an all-time high, there is no room for passengers on the farm. We culled any ewes that could cause hassle next spring or would need extra feeding over the winter.
We will re-assess after scanning. The majority of the dry ewes will be sold off, although some hogget ewes might be given a second chance. Any repeat offenders from last year will be sold.
Scanning the ewes and separating them into singles, twins, triplets and perhaps by raddle colour will enable more accurate feeding before lambing time. This cuts costs and helps performance by giving the ewes the feed they need for the amount of lambs they are carrying.
There’s not much point in scanning ewes unless the information is used to do this.
We will assemble ewes to one part of the farm after Christmas for sorting and scanning. Any batch that need a fluke dose will be treated accordingly.
Many hands make light work, and when we have a bit of help around over the festive period we can do a few jobs like this.
We will also have a day out at the Carrick Christmas Belles sale of in-lamb ewes and dry hoggets on Wednesday, December 28.
Tom Staunton farms in Tourmakeady, Co Mayo
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