Much time and fuel is spent checking stock in spring and summer and with good reason. This is when lamb growth adds value, but is easily reduced by disease or inadequate diet and you have to act quickly when problems arise. Ewes with mastitis or backed , lambs trapped in fences are all common occurrences and make checking worthwhile but flock problems may be harder to identify and sort.
Forewarned is forearmed. I am impressed by the SCOPS Nematodirus forecast – http://www.scops.org.uk/nematodirus-forecast.html – worth checking out. If you are specifically looking for symptoms, you are more likely to spot them. The Moredun news sheet is a great guide to this changing parasite with 15% of farmers in a Moredun survey now having autumn problems. Climate change will constantly challenge us with new problems – fluke in unexpected areas, earlier onset of flystrike. New exotic diseases from the Continent or Mediterranean are possible so expect the unexpected and use all the back up services available such as newsletters, websites, vet groups and discussions on monitor farms. Make sure those doing the checking are updated.
If you have to pen sheep for any reason, weigh 50 lambs and condition score the ewes, recording the figures for comparison with earlier years or with others in a group. A fresh pair of eyes can help if you suspect a problem. Base remedial action on data – worm egg and coccidial counts, trace element and blood sample analyses can all be employed to identify the cause of ill thrift.
Checking stock costs time and money, so check those data sources that alert you to emerging problems too, it’s not expensive and time well spent.
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