17 July 1998

TOPICAL TIP CONTENDER LINE-UP

Make managing sheep

easier with our Topical Tips.

Winners of the compeition

will be presented with their

prizes at Sheep 98.

Emma Penny looks at the

contenders

THIS years Topical Tips for Sheep competition, run by farmers weekly, attracted plenty of entries.

Competition judge Dick Jones, of the RASE, had a hard time drawing up a shortlist of three for each section – equipment inventions and management techniques. The winner and runners-up will be announced at Sheep 98, with the winners receiving £150, and the runners-up £50 each.

Top contenders

RW Edwards, The Barn, Hendre-Ifan-Goch Farm, Glynogwr, Blackmill, Bridgend.

Hanging hurdles on the wall of the sheep shed moves them out of the way. By placing two 45cm (18in) pieces of scrap pipe – 25.4mm (1in) box section, 25mm (1in) steel tube or 50mm (2in) angle iron between the rafter holding the Yorkshire boarding and the top of the wall 1.5m (5ft) apart, the hurdles can be placed out of the way, with the weight of the hurdles holding the pipe in place.

Keith Maxwell, Barmoffity Farm, Kirkpatrick Durham, Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbrightshire.

Hold bags of cake shut using clips. Made from 13mm (0.5in) plastic alkathene pipe cut into 50cm (20in) lengths and bent in half, grooves are cut along both insides, and two holes drilled at one end. A piece of fencing wire is passed through the holes to form a loop and hold the clip shut, while the grooves stop the clip sliding off the bag as it is handled. According to Mr Maxwell, the clips could also be colour coded to help identify different types of blend.

"The clip saves using string, which can often get lost, and is difficult to tie and untie with cold hands or wearing gloves as well as being time consuming."

James Middleton, Chapel Lawn Farm, Chapel Lawn, Bucknell, Shropshire.

Ensure infra-red lamps are held safely over weak or sick lambs, but are easily moved when required using a holder developed by Mr Middleton.

Using 2.5cm (1in) x 0.63cm (0.25in) flat mild steel bar, two 30cm (1ft) "prongs" are welded to each end of an 45cm (18in) bar to enable them to be hooked over the gate. A 15cm (6in) vertical bar is vertically welded to this, and a 45cm (18in) horizontal bar – designed to overhang the pen – is welded onto this and the lamp hung from it.

"These are very useful, and save time. They didnt cost me anything to make – I used some offcuts from the farm workshop."

Alan Hocken and Jo White, Grange Farm, Woolstone, Cheltenham, Glos

Use a blackboard marked with lambing pen numbers to keep track of ewes and lambs and their management, allowing everyone involved in lambing to know exactly what is going on.

Coloured chalk can be used to highlight any problems, or any treatments administered, saving staff doing the same job twice. Once ewes and lambs have left the pen, the information is rubbed out, ready to start again.

Rachael Brookes, Middle Tancredston Farm, Hayscastle, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire.

A system of numbers and dots on ewes and lambs will make identifying whether ewes should have a single lamb, twins, triplets or quads much easier in large groups. Prior to ringing, both ewes and lambs are marked as follows:

Single lamb – dot before the number on ewe and lamb

Twins – dot after number on ewe and lambs

Triplets – no dot, just a number on ewe and lambs

Quads – dot before and after number on ewe and lambs

According to Mrs Brookes, dots are always visible even if the number is faded or too far away. Spray colour is changed when available numbers are used up.

Giles Pritchard, New Cottage, Bickley, Newnham Bridge, Tenbury Wells, Worcs.

Identify lambs requiring treatment in a lambing flock using a luminous collar, fastened round the lambs neck using a velcro strip.

This allows lambs to be quickly identified in a large group, and treatments can be marked on the collar using permanent pen, says Mr Pritchard.

Luminous plastic for the collar can be bought in rolls, with a 5cm (2in) x 30cm (1ft) length costing about £1.50. Mr Pritchard uses 35cm (14in) lengths, attaching a piece of velcro to the inside sticky surface at one end of the collar, while the other piece is stuck to the coloured collar surface using superglue. &#42

Make opening bags easier with these clips, says Keith Maxwell. WITH THESE