Farmer Focus: Pleased as B-flock scan lifts 23%

Scanning has been an issue on our farm for a few years now. We were hit with toxoplasmosis abortion one year, then an iodine deficiency another, and we also started tupping ewe lambs.

With all that in the mix, we have had four years of scanning at 160-170%.

And although we had low scans, we did manage to keep losses low, so it wasn’t all bad.

But it made growing the flock extremely difficult, especially when we needed more lambs to go through the butchery.

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About the author

Louise Elkington
Louise Elkington runs 500 breeding ewes in Lincolnshire with husband Chris for their Gelston lamb brand, supplying restaurants, 13 Co-op stores and their online shop. They have 54ha of grass on a farm business tenancy and agreements for stubble turnips and hay aftermaths.
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Our “B flock” is lambed inside to terminal sires, while our “A flock” lambs later and outside to produce replacements. Our B flock comprises old ewes, poorer-performing ewes from the A flock, and shearlings.

The rain was pouring down when we scanned the B flock and Chris and I were preparing ourselves for another low scan.

I noticed our scanner, Ian, was hardly using any spray, which is good as we don’t mark twins.

I tried not to get my hopes up because it’s hard to judge as they go through so quickly.

Ian told us the results: 183%. This is up 23% from last year so we are incredibly happy with that.

We have a twinning rate of 66% and only a 2% barren rate. Some people may think that’s a low scan, but for us it’s about where we want to be, as we don’t want lots of triplets to rear.

We must now minimise losses for a good rearing rate, which is the most important thing.

We’ve made several changes to improve our scan result. We blood test to monitor trace elements and bolus accordingly to make sure we don’t have an iodine problem again.

We have increased the number of rams that go in after the teaser and have stopped tupping ewe lambs.

We still think they make better mothers when lambed as lambs, but we have found it has a knock-on effect for the next few years, making it not financially viable to tup them.

It has also taken the pressure off by not tupping them again this year as the winter keep has not lasted as long as we thought, so they are still on poor permanent pasture. We just hope the A flock scans well, too.