Like every other year, the last few weeks have seen sheep farmers very active and keen to get a hold of ewe lambs - whether it be at special sales or at general mart sales - as thoughts turn to the breeding season.

Some farmers have the intention of buying ewe lambs and keeping them as hoggets to sell them next year, or even to breed them themselves the following year.

While others will look to join them up with rams in a few weeks' time, with the idea of lambing them down next spring.

Mating ewe lambs does bring on an extra workload and they will need to be carefully managed.

However, breeding ewe lambs, provided that they are managed to meet their nutritional requirements, can reduce the cost of rearing replacements and they can increase flock output and profitability.

Having ewe lambs heavy enough at mating is key. Farmers should be targeting their ewe lambs to be 60% of their target mature weight at mating time.

According to Teagasc, for most lowland breeds, you should be targeting your ewe lambs to be weighing at least 45kg at mating time - many farmers would even be looking for their ewe lambs to be at least 50kg.

Mating ewe lambs that weigh less than 45kg will more than likely lead to problems.

Therefore if you have, or are on the lookout for ewe lambs for the upcoming breeding season, it is important to keep in mind the weight of the lambs that you have or are buying, and what weight they need to be when breeding starts.