Tighter lamb supplies are set to impact on the coming
season’s marketplace and strengthen prices for earlier
lambs, says Volac International’s Maggie Gould.
“FMD and Bluetongue have catalysed farmers’ decision
to quit sheep production and according to MLC’s latest
forecast, lamb slaughter numbers are down 200,000, or 1.4%
on the year.
“Add to that figure a suggested reduction in mutton
and sheepmeat production is set to fall by almost 2.5%
on 2007,” she says. “Furthermore, while exports
are likely to be up on the year and imports remain identical,
the Commission forecasts that the total supplies of sheep
meat to the domestic market to fall by 3.4%.
“While all farmers will welcome the forecast trends,
returns will continue to remain very slim. With the increasing
likelihood of strong early season lamb prices, rearing
surplus lambs is one obvious way of helping to improve
overall margins for early lambing flocks. Lambs must be
introduced to an efficient and cost effective system,” Maggie
“Good husbandry is key, along with a system which
offers high quality milk replacer, such as Volac Lamlac,
on a little and often basis in order to reduce the risk
of digestive upsets, encourage faster growth rates and
save time at one of the most hectic periods.”
Rearing surplus lambs
Surplus lambs should
have the very best start in life if they’re to be
reared successfully, says ADAS’s
sheep consultant, Kate Phillips. Adopting the following
ten point surplus lamb plan will ensure a well scheduled
routine that will pay dividends in saving labour and lives.
- Use your scanning results; they’re
vital in planning the likely numbers and for setting
up a clear and effective system.
- Feed a high quality diet
with high levels of energy and protein to ensure good
sized lambs and a rich supply of colostrum.
- Dip all lamb
navels soon after birth in a strong iodine solution.
Keep the immediate environment clean and hygienic.
all lambs get a good supply of colostrum within six hours
of birth (50ml/kg body weight per feed). Leave them with
the ewe for a minimum of 24 hours, until the navel is
dry. If necessary, lambs should be supervised suckling
to ensure sufficient colostrum intake.
- Do not choose weak
or sickly lambs for artificial rearing.
- Take the spare
lamb from the ewe and bottle feed on milk replacer for
48 hours before introducing to group pens.
- Put lambs into
group pens and take them to the teats on the ad lib bucket
or machine to teach them to suckle. You may need to repeat
several times in the first day to ensure lambs are confident
- Introduce creep and a clean dry source of
long forage, either hay or straw, at around one week
- Keep all milk feeding equipment very clean.
against clostridia and pasteurella at four to six weeks
old. Inject with a booster four weeks later.
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