Farmer Focus: Pre-tupping minerals put to the test

As ever we try to have one eye on next season when making decisions for the remainder of the current one.

With this in mind, we have brought all the cattle in for winter to avoid any further damage to the grassland. In turn, this will hopefully provide the ewes with additional grass during tupping and next spring when they have lambs at foot.

Cows have been supplemented with last year’s surplus big-bale silage for the past two weeks while they were out, but older calves destined for a weanling sale have been housed and luckily all passed their pre-sale TB test.

The March-lambing ewes seem to have taken the tup well, and judging by the raddle marks, the majority should lamb in the first 10 days.

We’ve returned to using raddle harnesses on our rams this year to try to improve management pre-lambing, but with the majority taken in the first cycle, they won’t require too much separation due to feeding requirements.

The tups are due to go in with our April-lambing Cheviot ewes this week. Hopefully they have all been sufficiently flushed. With half going to Lleyn rams and the other half to NZ Romneys, we will have a good comparison of how the two breeds perform in a commercial situation.

We have also decided to test how effective pre-tupping mineral and vitamin supplements are. We have bolused one-third of the flock, drenched one-third and left the last third without any supplementation. Time will show us which is the most cost-effective method.

To help keep track of these different trials and flock performance in general we have been looking at management software and EID recording equipment.

Having decided which products we want to use, we are now waiting to see if any of them will be eligible for the grant funding that was announced in the summer.

Tom Jones lives on a 200ha upland beef and sheep farm near Lake Vyrnwy, Montgomeryshire. He also has a contract shepherding business looking after ewes locally.

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