Do job right & be seen to be doing it right
Good husbandry of store lambs on roots or brassicas
will pay dividends by reducing costs and boosting
performance. Thats the message of a series
of ADAS roadshows. Sue Rider reports
HOW best to provide adequate shelter for store lambs grazing on root crops or brassicas generated keen debate at the first of a series of ADAS meetings on arable/vegetable waste.
Farmers at Bentley Nelstrops Westfield Farm, Branston, Lincoln, heard that sheep on forage crops should be provided with both a clean area to lie – on adjacent pasture or a straw bedded area – and access to shelter.
There should also be adequate provision of food and water, good health care and sufficient supervision, explained ADAS advisers.
Flocks folded on arable by-products/roots were attracting increasing criticism due to welfare concerns.
"The public doesnt expect to see lambs grazing sugar beet tops and cabbages; they think its cruel," said ADAS sheep consultant Alison Lockwood. "This is what were up against and some members of the farming community do let the side down. Its up to us to ensure were doing the job right so that we dont lay ourselves open to criticism," she said.
MAFF vet officer Paul Gethings had been called out to farms singled out for criticism. It was important to get things right, he said. Shelter was a key concern in the exposed eastern counties.
He told farmers concerned about the practicalities of providing shelter for large numbers of sheep to consider using rows of straw bales, trailers or Netlon.
Some farmers present felt the fleece should offer adequate protection. This is a common misconception, responded ADAS livestock specialist Kate Phillips. "In bad weather sheep seek shelter behind trees, shrubs or rocks, or in the lee of a hill. Their fleece offers good protection from the wind, but driving rain will soak through to the skin; animals then quickly become chilled. Energy requirements for maintenance will increase, so the sheep needs more food, fails to grow and goes downhill."
Alison Lockwood:"Its up to us to ensure were doing the job correctly so we dont lay ourselves open to criticism."
MANAGEMENT ON ROOTS
• Inspect lambs daily
• Provide shelter
• Adequate feed/water