Things to think about this spring: Sheep
Extreme drought and bushfires over the past 12 months have left Australian sheep flock numbers at record lows. With the spring joining and weaning season fast approaching, we spoke to Elders Livestock Production Manager Rob Inglis about the range of steps sheep producers should be taking to facilitate the effective regeneration of their herd.
Below are some of the key considerations for farmers as we head into spring and summer.
For advice on looking after the administrative side of your business, and a list of relevant Elders products and services to help you along the way, check out our wool grower advice piece.
Ewe health and prosperity is the cornerstone of any successful breeding program, and according to Rob the key is to wean early and allow plenty of time for ewe recovery.
“Those that have autumn lambed should be weaning now, and those that are spring lambing should be looking to wean before spring feed matures. The preservation of the 2021 lamb drop starts now – the more work you do to conserve ewe health and recovery this year, the greater the rewards you will reap next year.”
Trace mineral deficiencies
“The abundance of feed available on the back of a relatively good season, particularly in eastern Australia, has resulted in the dilution of trace minerals in sheep – most notably selenium, copper and zinc. These elements are key components in maintaining a healthy immune system, so deficient sheep may become more susceptible to infection and disease,” Rob says.
While Elders offers a wide range of supplements and feeds to combat dilution and improve overall flock nutrition and productivity, it must be noted that mineral supplement programs can have significant ramifications for ewe fertility – so is crucial producers are adequately informed before administration. That’s where an Elders Livestock Production Manager can really make a dramatic difference for cattle farmers, says Rob.
“Getting an expert down to recommend a supplements program tailored to the specific needs of your sheep can help ensure there are no unintended, adverse effects on the ewe’s breeding cycle.”
Front of mind for all sheep producers should be fly management. According to Rob, the wetter-than-average summer forecast by the bureau will be conducive to a summer fly wave, with sheep flocks particularly at risk.
“When it comes to fly management, prevention is better than a cure. It only takes one struck sheep to put millions of fly eggs into the ground and increase their numbers exponentially. An effective, pre-emptive fly treatment regime in the coming weeks is critical for flock health – if you can stop flies from breeding now, you will be more likely to avoid any second-wave of breeding over the summer months.”
The recent season has increased the threat of parasites throughout the flock, especially Barber’s pole worm which Rob notes could be particularly problematic given the forecasts for a wet summer.
“The Barber’s pole worm is an insidious and prolific layer whose numbers can build up very quickly and catch farmers unaware. Proactive and informed treatment plans, such as drench selection to minimise egg build-up, will be critical in minimising issues over the upcoming summer months.”
It is important to note that, in many flocks, single active drenches are losing their efficacy, with significant pockets of resistance starting to emerge.
“Given the increasing of resistance observed in flocks across the country, It is recommended that producers consider a variety of drenching options, noting that the single-active nature of injectables will not be effective in breaking the growing resistance cycle,” says Rob.
Elders offers an extensive range of internal and external parasite and vaccine products, as well as expert advice from our Livestock Production Managers to help you better manage the threat of parasites in your flock this season.
The Elders business has been built around primary producers and their needs throughout the production cycle. We have built a team of dedicated agribusiness experts to help you explore your options, protect your assets and grow your operations to maximise your farm’s potential.
For more information on how Elders can support you this spring, contact your local Elders branch or Livestock Production Manager.