Farmers encouraged to embrace data-driven lambing

With scanning now in full swing for the main 2017 lamb crop, Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) has emphasised the importance of making full use of data to improve farm efficiency.

According to the red meat levy body, scanning information can be used to manage feeding efficiently, leading to on-farm cost savings. Scanning percentages can also be compared with lambing percentages to help farmers to make informed decisions on the management of their flocks from year to year.

Scanning is usually carried out by specialist contactors who travel from farm to farm, around 40-90 days from the conception of the lambs.

HCC Industry Development Executive James Ruggeri said; “Ultrasound scanning of in-lamb ewes is one of the most useful and cost effective management tools for sheep farmers.

“The typical cost of scanning is around 50 pence per ewe,” explained James, “but savings can immediately be made by accurate feeding according to the number of lambs carried, and by identifying any empty ewes.

“A barren ewe will cost a business around £27.00 to run around for another year in forage alone,” he added. “Over-feeding the less productive ewes is not only financially uneconomical but can also result in birth difficulties in those carrying single lambs.”

Scanning information can also be used to plan vaccinations for clostridial diseases where early-lambing and late-lambing ewes are identified, and help plan when to ‘wet’ foster the third of any ewes carrying triplets. Shepherds with a flock barren rate greater than two per cent can also ask their vet for a subsidised blood test to establish whether the likely cause of the problem is toxoplasmosis.

“Best practice on how to make the most of scanning results, along with a range of other practical advice based on extensive research, is available in the HCC booklet, Feeding the Ewe for Lifetime Production,” added James Ruggeri.