Farmers urged to use data more efficiently
Published:  06 February, 2017

Sheep producers have been told that they should make the most of farm data to improve efficiency. 

Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) said that scanning information can be used to manage feeding efficiently, subsequently resulting in on-farm cost savings. Additionally, scanning percentages can also be compared with lambing percentages in an effort to help farmers to make informed decisions on the management of their flocks from year to year. This process is usually carried out by specialist contractors who travel from farm to farm around 40 to 90 days from the conception of lambs.

“Ultrasound scanning of in-lamb ewes is one of the most useful and cost-effective management tools for sheep farmers,” said HCC industry development executive James Ruggeri.

“The typical cost of scanning is around 50 pence per ewe, but savings can immediately be made by accurate feeding according to the number of lambs carried, and by identifying any empty ewes. A barren ewe will cost a business around £27.00 to run around for another year in forage alone,” he added.

“Over-feeding the less productive ewes is not only financially uneconomical, but also results in birth difficulties in those carrying single lambs.”

According to HCC, scanning information can be used to plan vaccinations for clostridial diseases, where early-lambing and late-lambing ewes are identified. It can also help to ‘wet’ foster the third of any ewes carrying triplets. The Welsh red meat levy board advised that farmers with a flock barren rate greater than 2% should ask their vet for a subsidised blood test to establish whether the likely cause of the problem is toxoplasmosis.

“Best practice on how to make the most of scanning results, along with a range of other practical advice based on extensive research, is available in the HCC booklet, Feeding the Ewe for Lifetime Production,” concluded Ruggeri.