Farmers Guardian Sheep Supplement 7 November 2014

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| 37 FRIDAY NOVEMBER 7 2014 WWW.FARMERSGUARDIAN.COM LAMBING STAFF Managing casual labour PAGE 42 FEEDING TMR Top tips and a farmer case study PAGES 40-41 RAINBOW CHAROLLAIS Pedigree breeding PAGES 38-39 NOW ONLY £450 Read, Record, Comply Avoid CAP Fines! StockMove Express Stick Reader EID Funding for Welsh Farmers www.shearwell.co.uk Shearwell Data EID 59 p Visual Pairs Now From http://hccmpw.org.uk unding for EID F u She o or o o ur ur tag ags gs n nd nd muc uc a a y y F Fo Fo Sh F ta rmers a elsh F Fa r W We e r r e el ell ll Da w w e e a ch ch mo o e e pl ple lea eas ase se a al all ll or or go go c c ca ca or r e e a a a t ta a o on onl nli lin in ne o oda day ay! y! o t t o o w e T Te . . 01643 841611 w w. w w ell w e r shea .uk o .c el . .uk . 01643 841611 unding for mers can go t EID F u ar elsh Sheep F W e ebsit w cmp ttp://hc h oucher f e a v eiv ec o r t t! quipmen EID E onditi c co ( c ead Shearwell s St i c k Re a d tick R s S ’s ell w Shear , S StockM v ve E Ex p ress, S ess e Expr v o o ockM t S i S h e e p Crate s a re e l i gi e elig es ar t a r Sheep C rmers C a elsh F Fa r W We o the HC mers can go t .uk g .or w p ember v in No o use against or £500 t f o onditions apply). pp d e r w i t h Ph o n e Ap p hone A der with P der and E D Sto c k Record e r a n d E I D or ec ock R t S . ible. ible . Pl Ple leas se se a al all ll or r de de ta tai ail ils ls. or details s all f f f o o o se c c c a a a Plea ea a ember Slaught Slaug B e ee eding r r e er t t 59p gh e er t t 9p 79p N w w o o F o om r r SHEEP A six-page Farmers Guardian special feature Edited by Louise Hartley 01772 799 412 [email protected] A s a self-confessed lover of sheep breeding and all things data-related, Catherine Nakielny is certainly not dismiss- ing the benefits of electronic identification (EID), but believes it can have negative impacts on some farm businesses if not care- fully managed. Speaking at an event organised by Innovation for Agriculture, Warwickshire Rural Hub and the NFU, Miss Nakielny said: “There is a danger some farmers may become bogged down in data, without really generating any useful information to help their business. You can get lost in data and it is very easy to do.” Reflecting on her own experi- ence, Miss Nakielny explained when she first started using EID on her own family’s flock, she recorded a host of data sets, but after two or three seasons found there was too much data to make sense of. Before embarking on any new business idea which requires an extra cost or increased labour demand, you must have a clear indication of what you will get in return, said Miss Nakielny. “It is important to identify ar- eas where EID can be of most use to your own system and only record key pieces of data which will generate the most useful pieces of information. “When tagging lambs at birth and matching them back to ewes, I believe the benefits are only quite small. “For ram and pedigree breed- ers, it can be beneficial to record everything at birth, but for most How to avoid getting bogged down when EID recording commercial breeders, rewards are not so big. It takes time, and time is money. “You may be able to remove the poorest ewes from a flock, but this will only have limited genetic impact. There is much greater maternal genetic gain to be had from buying-in recorded rams and improving the weakest areas of management.” For a commercial prime lamb enterprise, Miss Nakielny said the two most valuable parame- ters to record are growth rate of lambs per day and weight of lambs leaving the farm. Output She said: “Performance pays. Cost control is important, but output is one of the most crucial key drivers of profitability. Everything should be focused on profitability when it comes to sheep farming and considering the use of EID. “Farmers can become so dis- tracted by recording data when sheep come into the race, they forget to look at ewes or lambs. It may sound basic, but you are less likely to put your hand on a ewe and check its body condition if you are carrying too much technology.” But Miss Nakielny agreed EID can offer a far greater level of accuracy when compared to conventional recording. She said: “I have spent hours recording data, writing numbers on a piece of paper and typing it up on to a spreadsheet. No mat- ter how hard I tried, I could not ensure all the numbers I wrote down and typed in were accu- rate, but EID has an accuracy read rate of more than 99 per cent as long as the tag is in work- ing order.” Problems EID can be useful in picking up problems before they result in a growth check or loss of perform- ance, said Miss Nakielny. “When you see lambs every day, it is easy to miss an underly- ing issue. “Lambs do not always scour if they have worms and can easily hide lameness in a big group – monitoring weight gain using EID can pick up hidden prob- lems before it becomes too financially significant.” TAGGING requirements for lambs going to slaughter and movement reporting for the historic flock are set to change at the end of the year. From January 1, 2015, you will no longer be able to tag Reminder of slaughter tag and historic flock changes lambs going for slaughter under 12 months of age with the non-electronic slaughter tag. You will be able to use an electronic slaughter tag. The historic flock derogation ends. This means for sheep tagged before 2010, unless going to slaughter (either directly to abattoir from farm or through a slaughter market), individual tag numbers are required on the movement document. There is a maternal genetic gain to be had from buying-in recorded rams, says Catherine Nakielny.

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Transcript of Farmers Guardian Sheep Supplement 7 November 2014

Page 1: Farmers Guardian Sheep Supplement 7 November 2014

| 37FRIDAY NOVEMBER 7 2014WWW.FARMERSGUARDIAN.COM

LAMBINGSTAFFManagingcasual labourPAGE 42

FEEDING TMR Top tips and afarmer casestudyPAGES 40-41

RAINBOWCHAROLLAIS PedigreebreedingPAGES 38-39

NOW ONLY £450

Read,Record,Comply

Avoid CAP Fines!

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www.shearwell.co.ukShearwell Data

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SHEEPA six-page Farmers Guardian special feature

Edited by Louise Hartley01772 799 [email protected]

As a self-confessed loverof sheep breeding andall things data-related,Catherine Nakielny iscertainly not dismiss-

ing the benefits of electronicidentification (EID), but believesit can have negative impacts onsome farm businesses if not care-fully managed.

Speaking at an event organisedby Innovation for Agriculture,Warwickshire Rural Hub and theNFU, Miss Nakielny said: “Thereis a danger some farmers may become bogged down in data,without really generating anyuseful information to help theirbusiness. You can get lost in dataand it is very easy to do.”

Reflecting on her own experi-ence, Miss Nakielny explainedwhen she first started using EIDon her own family’s flock, sherecorded a host of data sets, butafter two or three seasons foundthere was too much data to makesense of.

Before embarking on any newbusiness idea which requires anextra cost or increased labour demand, you must have a clearindication of what you will get inreturn, said Miss Nakielny.

“It is important to identify ar-eas where EID can be of mostuse to your own system andonly record key pieces of datawhich will generate the mostuseful pieces of information.

“When tagging lambs at birthand matching them back to ewes,I believe the benefits are onlyquite small.

“For ram and pedigree breed-ers, it can be beneficial to recordeverything at birth, but for most

How to avoid getting boggeddown when EID recording

commercial breeders, rewardsare not so big. It takes time, andtime is money.

“You may be able to removethe poorest ewes from a flock,but this will only have limited genetic impact. There is muchgreater maternal genetic gain tobe had from buying-in recordedrams and improving the weakestareas of management.”

For a commercial prime lambenterprise, Miss Nakielny saidthe two most valuable parame-ters to record are growth rate of lambs per day and weight oflambs leaving the farm.

OutputShe said: “Performance pays.Cost control is important, butoutput is one of the most crucialkey drivers of profitability.Everything should be focused onprofitability when it comes tosheep farming and consideringthe use of EID.

“Farmers can become so dis-tracted by recording data whensheep come into the race, theyforget to look at ewes or lambs.It may sound basic, but you areless likely to put your hand on aewe and check its body conditionif you are carrying too much

technology.”But Miss Nakielny agreed EID

can offer a far greater level of accuracy when compared to conventional recording.

She said: “I have spent hoursrecording data, writing numbers

on a piece of paper and typing itup on to a spreadsheet. No mat-ter how hard I tried, I could notensure all the numbers I wrotedown and typed in were accu-rate, but EID has an accuracyread rate of more than 99 per

cent as long as the tag is in work-ing order.”

ProblemsEID can be useful in picking upproblems before they result in agrowth check or loss of perform-ance, said Miss Nakielny.

“When you see lambs everyday, it is easy to miss an underly-ing issue.

“Lambs do not always scour ifthey have worms and can easilyhide lameness in a big group –monitoring weight gain usingEID can pick up hidden prob-lems before it becomes too financially significant.”

TAGGING requirements forlambs going to slaughter andmovement reporting for thehistoric flock are set to changeat the end of the year.From January 1, 2015, you

will no longer be able to tag

Reminder of slaughter tag and historic flock changes

lambs going for slaughter under12 months of age with the non-electronic slaughter tag.You will be able to use an

electronic slaughter tag.The historic flock derogation

ends. This means for sheep

tagged before 2010, unlessgoing to slaughter (eitherdirectly to abattoir from farmor through a slaughter market),individual tag numbers arerequired on the movementdocument.

There is a maternal genetic gain to be had from buying-in recorded rams, says Catherine Nakielny.

Page 2: Farmers Guardian Sheep Supplement 7 November 2014

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The past seven years haveseen showring successfor Andrew and JanetWalton, Church Farm,Backford, Chester.

Mr Walton is regional chairmanfor the British Charollais SheepSociety and Mrs Walton is breedrepresentative for Durocs with theBritish Pig Association (BPA), yet neither came from strongbackgrounds in their respectivelivestock arenas.“We met at Bristol University

while studying for a masters degree in meat science,” says MrWalton, who today oversees amulti-species cutting and packingplant for Morrisons at Winsford.Two chance encounters influ-

enced his early career path. Atschool Mr Walton did a project

on Charollais with breeder John Barber and even then declaredone day he would have his ownflock. The other was an encounteron placement from Cirencester.He says: “I was asked what I

was going to do after my degreeby Richard Cracknell, then headof Anglo Beef Processors, whichsteered the company through theworst of BSE.“He gave me my first work

placement. I could see more sci-ence was going to be involvedwhich is why I went on to Bristol.”His next career step was in

poultry processing. The demandfor tight fiscal control and consistency of product became engrained.He says: “Peter Drucker, the

management guru, is often

quoted saying ‘if you cannot meas-ure it, you cannot manage it’. Wellhere is one from me: accurate figures are better than unsub-stantiated emotions.“Without measurement and

knowledge, you will never getthe best job done or get the best productivity, and this applies topedigree breeding.

Selection“You need data. And it is about selecting the top percentage andnot carrying on with those whichdo not just make the grade buthave invariably cost you money toget there.”This is the philosophy for both

the Rainbow flock of Charollaissheep and Deva herd of Durocpigs. Tight control of cost, per-

formance recording from birth toselection, and a reliance on theprimestock market for everythingnot up to breeding quality are central to their management, saysMr Walton.The entry into breeding came

with a move from Herefordshireto Church Farm which at the time was a 0.8-hectare (two-acre) holding.He says: “We decided to set up

WTMS – a consultancy businessto the food sector for effectiveproblem solving such as correct-ing inconsistent line production.Chester is central so we can beanywhere in Europe within sixhours via Manchester airport.”

His declaration was to come tofruition albeit taking longer thanoriginally hoped.Mr Walton started with four

pedigree recorded ewes fromFoulrice and one from Mark John-ston. The aim was to produce theoccasional breeder for local mar-kets and family use, with maybethe odd one for the freezer.

EfficiencyThe Charollais breed was chosenfor efficient conversion of grass tomeat and good carcase qualities,something which the couplehad seen ‘from the inside out’during their masters degree.The breed was also selected for

easy lambing, helping it fit aroundfull-time employment.Mr Walton says: “I spent

1,000gns on a Lowerye tupranked in the breed’s top per centfor muscle depth, which we keptfor six years.”Additional land rented from

neighbouring Chester Zoo and afuel depot allowed expansion using home-bred ewe lambs andstock from the Eyelid dispersal.“Today, by no accident, we run

100 acres of which we own half.The flock now totals 160 pedigreeewes and 30 commercials onwhich to foster or implant embryos,” says Mr Walton.A huge amount of time is given

Pedigree breeding demands focus and ruthlessness to make calculated improvements. With a background in meat science and problem solvingin the food sector, Andrew and Janet Walton are driving improvement in both Charollais sheep and Duroc pig breeds. Simon Wragg reports.

Move into meatpays dividends forpedigree breeders

Andrew and Janet Walton on-farm in Chester. PICTURES: John Eveson

People thinkrecorded stockdo not showwell, butevidently they doANDREW WALTON

Page 3: Farmers Guardian Sheep Supplement 7 November 2014

SHEEP | 39FRIDAY NOVEMBER 7 2014WWW.FARMERSGUARDIAN.COM

to planning breeding matches foreach individual ewe. This takesinto account the desired traits tobe improved, breeding indexes ofpotential sires and checks to avoidhistoric bloodlines of ram and ewedo not clash.

This level of attention is aimedat improving the rate of geneticprogress and mirrors the protocolinstilled for mating in the Durocpig herd.

The main group of ewes startslambing from December 1.From the annual lamb crop, thebest 25-30 ram lambs are offeredfor sale to customers direct offfarm or through society sales.

The 80-90 per cent of ramlambs which do not make thegrade are sent finished throughChelford market from March onwards at 40kg plus.

Primestock sales are a shopwindow in themselves, butshowring exposure is valued highly, says Mr Walton.

“We compete at Shropshire,Caersws and Oswestry shows asthey all take place on Saturdays.We also compete at Cheshire as itis our local show and at Westmor-land as it is an excellent one-daypig show.

“People think recorded stock donot show well, but evidently theydo. We have taken inter-breedsheep champion at Cheshire in2012 and 2013 – latterly for both a single and group of three.

“In 30 years’ time, we will behaving the same argument overestimated breeding values versusgenomics.”

The business has a 10-year planin place for development of theCharollais flock, aiming to achievetop ranking for key performancerecorded indexes, says Mr Walton.

He says: “We have had successalready, for example, with ourhome-bred ram Rainbow Mis-placed Childhood.

Performance“To promote the performance-recorded work, I set up the ‘females with figures’ sale thisyear. Mark and Margie Rush-brooke of the Brettles flock offeredempty recorded, shorn, dipped females at Worcester mart.

“The 15 put forward had excep-tional gigot and muscularity figures which had taken 10 yearsto achieve. The average price was a disappointment at 350gns,

� 160 pedigree and 30commercial ewes� Performance-recordedfrom birth� 25-30 ram lambs per yearsold as breeders� Non-breeders sold primethrough Chelford� 40 hectares (100 acres)grassland, half of which isowned

RainbowCharollais

� Boar at stud plus pedigreesales off-farm� 2014 show successesinclude pig of the yearqualifier at the Royal WelshSpring Festival, modernchampion at Cheshire andreserve male and championmodern pairs at the GreatYorkshire Show� Non-breeders sold viaChelford and internet sales

Deva Durocs

Charollais ewes are usually due to lamb from December 1, with the best 25-30 ram lambs sold direct or through society sales.

The farm sells non-breeding pigs via Chelford and internet sales.

but it put the event on the map.”Mrs Walton, whose brother is

head livestock auctioneer at Skip-ton, says the Duroc herd’s futureis focused on breed promotion.

“When we started there werejust nine breeders. Today, thereare 19 listed. Durocs improve car-case quality and allows a nativedam line for character.”

From the outset, scrutiny ofproduct, control of variation andcost implications instilled whenstudying meat science and work-ing in the food manufacturing sector have fed through to thefarm business.

Mr Walton says: “It has to bethis way with pedigree breeding.There has to be commercial rea-soning behind it. I know our costsdown to the last penny so can decide whether it pays to sell ananimal or not at any given oppor-tunity. I also know not everythingyou breed will be fit for purposedespite what it has cost.

“You have to weed out thosewhich do not make the grade orrisk doing a disservice to a breedand the wider development of theindustry.”

For more pictures from this feature, visit www.farmersguardian.com/livestock

Page 4: Farmers Guardian Sheep Supplement 7 November 2014

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More farmers arechoosing to feed atotal mixed ration(TMR) to ewes, see-ing benefits such as

lower feed costs, better forageuse and increased intakes.

But as independent sheep con-sultant Lesley Stubbings pointsout, there are several key factorswhich must be considered ifTMR feeding is to be successful.

Ms Stubbings says: “A TMR,or complete diet, incorporatesall the ewes’ feed requirementsin to one mix, with only waterneeding to be added.

“It is a very different way offeeding sheep, but uses the sameprinciples as those for feedingdairy cows and allows farmers tomake effective use of the sheep’sability to digest forage.”

According to Ms Stubbings,grazed grass is about five timescheaper than feeding a com-pound, while silage is 2-2.5 timescheaper per unit of energy – so itis worthwhile using grass asmuch as possible.

The first priority when feedinga TMR to sheep is making the correct formulation – if the diet is wrong the consequences

can be severe, says Ms Stubbings.“Unlike dairy cows, where the

effects of an incorrect ration canbe seen in the tank quickly, withsheep you often will not knowanything is wrong until problemsbecome visible.

“To avoid any problems, use anutritionist who knows how toformulate a sheep specific dietand, crucially, get the silageanalysed. There are plenty ofconsultants and commercial feedcompanies who will analyse for-age for about £15 per sample.”

ProblemsIt is also important to under-stand different batches of silagecan have different feed valuesand will require individual analy-sis, adds Ms Stubbings.

“Many farmers make big balesin batches but forget to notewhich is which, leaving them un-able to plan how they will fit thevarious qualities into a feedingregime. Even if they are not goingin to a TMR mix, this is important.

“A good quality, well madesilage with an ME of at least10MJ should be used. Anythingless and the ration will have to besupplemented with significantamounts of concentrate whichdefeats the whole objective of using a TMR.”

Providing 24-hour access tofeed is critical when it comes toTMR feeding, says Ms Stubbings.

A lack of feed, or a gap in feedsupply will have a negative effecton the ewes’ performance.

Ms Stubbings explains: “Acommon indicator of underfeed-ing or a lack of accessible feed isseeing ewes with dirty backs. Youcan tell the feeding is not right ina shed if ewes have dirty backs asthey have been jumping on eachother to access the feed trough.

“In contrast, having a signifi-cant number of ewes sat cuddingin the shed during the middlepart of the day is an indicationfeeding is going well.

“Smaller ewes will often stayclear of the feed trough whenbigger ewes are feeding, so byensuring there is a consistentsupply of feed through the day,the smaller and timid ewes canfeed at quieter times when they

feel less threatened, ensuringtheir intakes do not drop.”

The level of feeding dependson the dry matter of the silage.Ewes will eat more, in terms offresh weight, the wetter thesilage is, though very wet silages(those with less than 25 per centdry matter) can limit intakes dueto the sheer bulk they have to eatto get the dry matter (DM).

Robots“As a guide, for silage which is35-40 per cent DM, a half-bredtype ewe will eat more than 4kgeach day,” Ms Stubbings says.

“Most farmers push feed upthrough the day to ensure 24-hour access and keep intakes up.Some have bought robots to pushfeed up; an investment whichpays for itself in larger flocks.”

If the diet is right and good ac-cess is provided, Ms Stubbings’trials have shown a 20 per centincrease in intake by ewes fed aTMR, compared to standard fig-ures, and this barely dips in therun-up to lambing.

The capacity of diet feeders,and whether they can cope withbig bale silage, is another factorto consider. For many sheepfarmers, a second-hand feederwill be adequate and will last agood number of years, says MsStubbings.

“The other capital cost re-quired for TMR feeding is abuilding with the infrastructureto cope with the feeder wagonand allow enough trough spacefor ewes. As a guide, each half-bred ewe should have about15cm of trough space.”

Ewes should have about 15cm (6in) trough space, says Ms Stubbings.

With sheep youoften will notknow anythingis wrong untilproblemsbecome visibleLESLEY STUBBINGS

Push-up robots can be a good investment, says Ms Stubbings.

Total mixed rations are fast becoming popular with sheep farmers. Louise Hartley gets advicefrom Lesley Stubbings and talks to farmer Matt Blyth who has seen rewards from the system.

Using a TMR can raiseintakes and lower bills

Page 5: Farmers Guardian Sheep Supplement 7 November 2014

SHEEP | 41FRIDAY NOVEMBER 7 2014WWW.FARMERSGUARDIAN.COM

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UNDER the guidance of LesleyStubbings, flock manager MattBlyth of Didling Farm, West Sus-sex, made the switch to a TMRfeeding system six years ago.

Along with another farm, MrBlyth is involved with an Eblex-funded research project lookingat key performance indicatorsand optimising the contributionof grass and forage.

Before the change to TMR,the flock of 1,000 Llyen andLlyen cross Aberfield ewes washoused in an existing cattle shedin the run up to lambing and fedon concentrates and clampedsilage. The system was causinga number of health problems,while also being very expensive.

Mr Blyth says: “We were hav-ing problems, such as twin lambdisease, prolapses and poorlamb vigour.

“When the opportunity cameup for an overhaul of the sheepenterprise, we revamped theshed to make it more suitable forthe animals and opted for aTMR feeding system.

“At the time, the farm was alsohome to a dairy unit and had thecapabilities and machinery required for TMR feeding. Weknew if we got the system right,

it had the potential to be a farmore cost-effective way of feed-ing the flock, while also boostingproductivity.”

Instead of clamp silage, bigbales were made; a manage-ment change which allows theconservation of better qualityforage and improving overallgrazing management, with cutstaken little and often throughthe year. A paddock grazing sys-tem was also adopted to keepgrass quality high for silage andgrazing ewes and lambs.

TimeEwes are fed once per day in themorning, with feed pushed upvia a tyre on the front of the trac-tor in the afternoon.

Mr Blyth says: “Pushing uponly takes 10 minutes, so it is nottime consuming.

“In the last two weeks beforelambing, the sheep are fed in theafternoon and the TMR is justpushed up in the morning – free-ing up time to sort any urgentjobs as things start to get busy.”

One of the risks many peopleassociate with ad-lib feeding offorage to sheep is prolapses. Inreality, a properly constructedand fed TMR significantly re-duces the incidence of pro-lapse, Ms Stubbings says.

“The two farms in the studyhave seen a sharp reduction inthe number of prolapses sinceusing a TMR because they haveformulated their diets correctlyand provided 24-hour access.

“To mitigate the risk of pro-lapses caused by ewes gettingfat, the initial TMR given atDidling Farm to ewes in the firstfew weeks after housing con-tains the lowest quality silage.Haylage can even be used tokeep ewes from getting too fat,”adds Ms Stubbings.

� The sheep are housed eightweeks prior to lambing andstarted on silage plus 20g ofminerals per head per day� At six weeks prior tolambing, the higher qualitysilage is introduced, starting on10.7ME bales and moving up to11ME silage after three weeks� A 40 per cent proteinmolasses and urea product isincluded at 150g/head/day tobalance up the silages withdegradable protein, althoughthis varies according to silageanalysis� At three weeks beforelambing, the triplets arestarted on a soya bean meal at150g/ewe/day. Twins areintroduced to the supplement

a few days later and singlesabout 10 days before lambing� Triplets are built up to250g/head/day for the last twoweeks; twins for 10 days andsingles stay as they are. Themolasses urea supplementwas not included last yearafter soya was introduced� A typical ewe with twins inthe last 10 days before lambingreceives 3kg silage (at about40 per cent DM), 250g soyaand 20g minerals. In practice,this means adding 83kg of soyaand 6.5kg of minerals to everytonne of silage� The cost per ewe up tolambing is £3.90 forsupplements, plus £2 per ewefor nuts after turnout

TMR ration fed at Didling Farm

Mr Blyth has seen health benefits, while saving money and time feeding a TMR to his 1,000 Lleyns.Matt Blyth

The TMR is justpushed up inthe morning –freeing up timeto sort anyurgent jobs MATTHEW BLYTH

Complete dieta success onSussex farm

Page 6: Farmers Guardian Sheep Supplement 7 November 2014

SHEEP42 | FRIDAY NOVEMBER 7 2014

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Many farmers take on temporary staff or veterinary students to helpwith the extra workload at lambing time, but if not managed efficiently,it can be more of a hindrance than a help. Louise Hartley reports.

All veterinary studentsmust spend 12 weeks on animal husbandryplacements, includingtwo to four weeks lamb-

ing. For farmers they can be asource of relatively cheap and enthusiastic labour.To make sure workers are of

beneficial use as quickly as possi-ble, it is vital students and staff aretaught lambing routines and hus-bandry techniques as quickly andthoroughly as possible.

StudentKatherine Hall is a 23-year-old veterinary student at the London

Veterinary College, who hasworked on a Gloucestershire farmfor the past five years.In the run up to lambing she is

involved the selection of new stu-dents and casual labour, as well asconducting initial training on-farm and managing staff through-out the lambing period.

Get the most fromyour lambing staff

WHEN choosing a student, it isdown to individual preference,but selecting someone who isenthusiastic and who will fit inwith the team is essential,says Miss Hall.

“Farmers find placementsare passed down betweenstudents, so previousstudents can advertise andfind a student they think willsuit for the following year.

“Some farmers preferstudents to have experience,but I prefer enthusiasm withlittle lambing but somelivestock experience, as it iseasier to teach a person fromscratch than alter existinghabits to fit our routine.”

Select a student

Efficiency and management

First day

WHEN teaching, Miss Halldemonstrates a procedure andthen asks students to copy her,building complexity each time.

She says: “When going overhow to castrate and tail dock, Iget students to master taildocking and, when happy, moveon to castrations. Students canthen practice on some of thestronger lambs born overnight.”

Teaching students how tolamb a sheep is probably thetrickiest bit of all, says Miss Hall.

Abnormal foetal positions aredemonstrated using dead lambsand students are asked to showhow they would rectify it beforeany real lambing is undertaken.

Miss Hall says: “I find students

learn best if they have to explainwhat they can feel in the ewe,rather than just watching me.

“Many students say farmersexplain things too quickly ratherthan letting students master it forthemselves. This can lead tomistakes and requires morelong-term supervision.”

Teaching

AS it may be the student’s firsttime lambing, the first dayshould be as structured aspossible, advises Miss Hall.

She says: “I prefer the

student to arrive the day beforelambing is due to start, allowingthem time to settle in and givingme a chance to explain lambingprocedures and how ewes are

penned. I also show themwhere equipment and drugs arestored, so in an emergency Iwould not have to givedirections.”

Miss Hall advises talkingstudents through a normallambing and explaining how youdeal with newborn lambs, suchas navel dipping and recording.

She says: “Pens are fuller atthe beginning of lambing, makingit a good time to remindstudents how to catch and turnsheep. I do not want to bestopping to help students catchsheep if I can avoid it.

“After the first day, I preferstaff to arrive in the morningabout an hour after I do.

“This gives me time to getorganised and start to sort anyovernight problem lambs andmis-motherings in peace.”

AN efficiently-run system is keyto success at lambing, but issomething which can be difficultto maintain with different staff inthe team each year.

Miss Hall keeps a strictroutine, with all the ringing andturning out done in the morning,freeing the afternoon up toconcentrate on lambing andproblem ewes and lambs.

She says: “Typed routine andprotocol sheets are kept in theshed so staff know what needsto be done. Many farmers find itbeneficial to ask a good student

to return the following year to helpteach new staff as it frees up time.”

As well as the usual set of dailytasks assigned to students by MissHall, additional jobs are listed in anotebook in the shed and crossedoff once completed, allowing allstaff to clearly see which jobs areleft to undertake.

Miss Hall says: “I ask the lastperson working at night to recordany problems and detail the feedsgiven to tube-fed lambs so I cancheck them first thing in themorning.”

Any ewes with post-lambing

problems have baling twine tiedonto their pen and are recordedin the book, allowing easyidentification and extra checksto be carried out. Miss Hall usesa ‘treatment and protocol book’with clinical signs, preventionand treatment for problemssuch as a hyperthermic lamb.

She says: “The book ispopular with students and issomething they wish they hadaccess to on every lambingplacement, as it saves trying toremember everything thefarmer has said.”