17 July 1998

Watch those ewes on abundant grass

GOOD shepherding and continuous observation will be vital to success-fully wean flocks on abundant pasture.

Plenty of grass means most ewes are particularly fit, and producers must be wary, warns ADAS consultant Alison Lockwood. "Difficulties are most likely to arise where one of a twin is taken off the ewe, as it then becomes more difficult to manage her."

Even though the sward may be short, ewes are likely to find a good bite in it and hence continue to produce milk after weaning. Housing for a few days after weaning – with fresh water and straw freely available – will help dry up production.

After drying off, when ewes are turned out at a high stocking rate on to short grazing, Ms Lockwood suggests checking ewes every few days for signs of infection such as lumps and/or heat in the udder. Where possible, avoid grazing fields with many trees or which are near a natural watercourse. In these situations flies are more likely, increasing risk of spreading infection within the flock.

Producers weaning ewes on to arable stubbles later in the summer should check for heaps of grain in the field before turnout to avoid cases of acidosis, she warns. &#42