Know How / Husbandry

Animal husbandry covers a broad range of topics around livestock management throughout its lifetime. Including video guides on best practice, these articles look at the elements key to optimising stockmanship at the various stages of livestock production.

Case studies

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CALVING

How a Yorkshire suckler herd is achieving 96% calves weaned

An easy-calving herd is making light work of outdoor calving on a Pennine hill farm, with calf mortality at 1% in recent years and minimal assistance. The Hallos family, from…

SHEEP

How a new entrant built up flock on short-term land tenures

Sheep farming can be a tough enterprise anyway, but if you’re starting with no farm, no assets and limited experience, sheer determination is worth more than anything else. Young farmer…

SHEEP

How Glos farm reduced lamb losses to half the UK average

Gloucestershire sheep farmers Martin and Pauhla Whitaker have been placing a big emphasis on flock health, in the belief that if animals are healthy it will help them be more…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

How a Charolais herd is improving its maternal traits

Investing in easy-calving bulls has brought significant gains in the maternal figures of the pedigree Charolais herd at Falleninch Farm, Stirling, with their self-replacing index lifting by 9.8 index points…

FOOT HEALTH

Sheep farmer abolishes foot-rot in a year through vaccination

Lameness in sheep is not only detrimental to the animal’s health, but has repercussions on performance and profits, estimated to cost £89.80 a case. Government targets from the Farm Animal…

CALVING

US dairyman reveals calving protocols at his 2,800-cow dairy

Implementing strict calving protocols has helped US dairy farmer Don Niles reduce stillbirths from 24% to less than 2% on his 2,800-cow dairy. The vet, who is now co-owner and…

Practical advice

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CALVING

How to prevent and treat common problems at calving

For suckler farmers, income for the year is dependent on a successful calf crop, so keeping cows as healthy as possible at calving time is critical to ensure each animal…

DAIRY

Video: Preparing and clipping a calf for the show ring

When showing cattle, there is a lot to focus on in the ring, but actually much more work goes into the preparation: from breeding and selecting the right animal to…

LAMBING

16 ways to reduce lamb mortality

Adequate, high-quality colostrum for lambs, provided in the first few hours of life, is essential to cutting losses. Emily Gascoigne, a specialist sheep vet with the Synergy Farm Health practice,…

HOUSING AND HANDLING

Good sheep handling: Why it matters and how to improve it

Handling sheep may not come with the safety risk seen with cattle but ensuring systems are set up correctly goes a long way to reducing labour inputs and sheep stress.…

LIVESTOCK DISEASES

6 tips if vaccinating your flock for orf

Vaccinating sheep for orf can be an important step in addressing the costly condition in flocks, but care needs to be taken when using the vaccine, experts warn. The orf…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Fertility advice for autumn-calving dairy herds

Practising farm vet Dave Gilbert, who has 13 years’ experience working with block-calving herds, says the first steps are working out when you want to start, how long you want…

Insights

LIVESTOCK

4 sheep recording methods compared: which one is best?

Carmarthenshire sheep farmer and Aberystwyth University graduate Huw Williams completed a HCC scholarship in 2015 looking at how extensive systems in New Zealand and Australia were recording parentage. Talking about…

SHEEP

Research shows value of monitoring ewe body condition

New research has shown just how valuable it is to record and monitor body condition in commercial ewe flocks and keep it consistent year-round.   Independent sheep consultant Lesley Stubbings…

LAMBING

How sheep colostrum trials are helping to reduce antibiotics

Trials are comparing two lamb blood tests in a bid to reduce antibiotics use on farms through optimising ewe nutrition and health.  A series of farm studies has compared refractometer tests…

LAMBING

Sheep industry and farmers rally to tackle black loss

Concern is mounting in the Scottish sheep sector around a phenomenon severely limiting the economic performance and genetic progress of many upland flocks.  The perennial and unaccountable disappearance of lambs…

LIVESTOCK

Weaning lambs early could offer big benefits, trial shows

Early weaned lambs can grow as fast – if not – faster than their unweaned equivalents when fed legume-based forages. Research by New Zealand’s Massey University has found with the right…

Pros and cons of leaving male lambs entire

Are there any advantages of leaving male lambs entire? The answer is certainly, yes, but producers who consider reaping the benefits must also be aware of the management challenges it…

Alternative ewe protein offers cost-effective solution

Sheep farmers looking to top up protein in late-pregnancy ewe diets can use alternatives to soya without affecting animal performance. According to a project funded by Eblex, HCC, Adas and…