Third of farmers on Welsh sheep efficiency project say they want to boost flock fertility

Fertility has been highlighted as a key priority on sheep farms in Wales through an animal health planning project run by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC).

Over a third of the 211 sheep farmers on HCC’s Stoc+ project said they wanted to boost their flock’s fertility is a key part of their animal health action plans.

Many are looking for further advice and support on increasing their lambing percentages to increase their overall efficiency.

Dora Eynon, from Whitland, who is part of the Stoc+ project, has noted sheep fertility as one of the recommendations which are identified as part of the farm’s health planning action plan.

The key aims were both to tighten the lambing period by synchronising and also to increase lambing percentage. Working with Alice Jackson from Market Hall Vets, the farm opted to use teaser rams to achieve this.

Alice Jackson explained: “For best results, teasers should be introduced at least two weeks before tupping starts and the rams and teasers must be kept well out of sound, sight or smell of the ewes for over a month for this to be effective. It is important that teaser rams are vasectomised a couple of months before they are needed.

Ensuring good nutrition to reach body condition score of 3 to 3.5 by tupping, is one way to ensure a good scanning percentage.

“However, the ram makes up half of the flock and should have a thorough examination at least eight weeks before working.”

Eynon, who runs a flock of 380 crossbred ewes, said: “I’ve had three young rams vasectomised to be used as teasers before tupping this year. Alice has helped me to plan this so I can lamb over a shorter period next winter and hopefully increase my lambing percentage.”

Heather McCalman, HCC’s programme delivery coordinator, who works closely with Dora and Alice as part of the project, added: “There are a few simple management tips that can make a huge difference to scanning percentage.

Planning ahead with the farm vet can ensure that ewes and rams are in the optimum condition and have received any vaccinations or treatments at least eight weeks before tupping which all contribute to improved flock performance.

Stoc+ is part of the three-strand Red Meat Development Programme (RMDP) and is supported by the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.