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Killough Sheep Walk Success

Foul weather failed to deter the cream of Co Down sheep farmers from attending a very successful AgriSearch farm walk at J.H. Montgomery and Partners, Killough.

Over 80 producers heard AFBI vet Jason Barley warn about the dangers posed to sheep flocks by fluke following the wettest year in a generation. Weather in which fluke and their snail hosts thrived and spread, often following flooding, onto grazing land not normally associated with this deadly parasite.

Jason Barley

Jason Barley from AFBI veterinary division warned of the risk fluke poses to flock health following the prolonged wet weather in 2012.

Mr. Barley also reminded producers that the range of animal health products available to combat fluke was still very limited. Thus fluke are developing resistance to some products so care must be taken by farmers neither to under or over dose.

Another topic covered at this event organised by AgriSearch in conjunction with the NSA, AFBI and CAFRE was the need to check for mineral deficiency. An AFBI survey across NI found that 68% of ewes tested were deficient in selenium with the problem especially common around Killough, up the Strangford shore and on the Ards.

Getting your local veterinary practice to take a blood sample from ewes a month before lambing was strongly recommended. This can then be checked by AFBI, Stormont labs for important minerals such as cobalt, selenium, copper, zinc and iodine.

In a lively debate between guests speakers, Alan Montgomery and other farmer co-researchers covered other topics including ensuring pregnant ewes were properly fed in a winter where many producers are left with only mediocre silage in the wake of endless wet weather last ‘summer.’

The role of simple record keeping in boosting flock efficiency and reducing workloads at lambing time was also discussed. Host Alan Montgomery, a founder member of Strangford Down Lamb Producers Group, provoking a lively debate when he reported on AgriSearch supported trials conducted on the farm with AFBI scientists. This includes a rotational breeding programme producing replacement ewes using Belclare, Texel and Highlander crosses.

Alan Montgomery

Host Alan Montgomery welcomes farmers to the Killough AgriSearch event. The welcome was warn, but the weather cool.

This year Alan is again feeding ewes in the month before lambing on a maize silage based diet supplemented with soya in late pregnancy. Stubble turnips being kept for store lamb finishing.

For further details of farm based AFBI trials supported by AgriSearch, the NI Agricultural R & D Council, visit www.agrisearch.org or e mail info@agrisearch.org to receive a free ezine each month.


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