11 months ago

Sheep Matters_Aug-Sept 17 (redesigned)

Sample copy of new publication aimed at the progressive farmer and professional in the UK sheep industry. For further information and to register your interest go to

Flushing sheep that are

Flushing sheep that are fit in terms of condition will not stimulate increased ovulation (2). It is more cost effective to get ewes to optimum BCS through target setting and good management in the months prior to mating. Research also shows that prolific breeds should not be flushed as this has a detrimental effect on progesterone levels and consequent foetal development. For example, there is evidence that grazing Aberdale ewes on low quality grass sword at 8cm before mating helped to achieve optimal lambing percentages of between 160-200% (2). Nonetheless, flushing can provide a useful tool for ewes that have not reached their target BCS for mating. Providing a rising plane of nutrition in these circumstances can help to increase ovulation rates (1). But purposely reducing ewe BCS during the dry period in order to flush at a later point is counterproductive and can be expensive. This reduces follicle development and hormone production. Flushing thin ewes, especially mature ones can also lead to more triplets with negative impacts on pregnancy and lamb survival (1). Flushing is not necessary for ewes that are artificially stimulated to produce high numbers of eggs. High feeding levels are likely to have a negative impact on hormone levels in this instance (2). The Do’s •• ●Set BCS targets. Nutrition affects ovulation and placenta development. If nutrition is inadequate at one of these stages, the damage cannot be undone by high feeding at a later stage. •• ●Use grass as much as possible. Graze thin ewes on best quality pasture. •• ●Investigate reasons for poor BCS and prioritise thin ewes. Very low BCS (

Are we maximising value? The sheep sector is facing significant challenges and its long-term survival will depend on building a sustainable production system in the UK that maximises value in the industry. Challenges Key threats include a declining demand for red meat (especially lamb), BREXIT and the impact that new international trade deals will have on our export markets, the need to reduce the impact of farming on the environment resulting in the drive to “produce more for less” (sustainable intensification), and a shrinking pool of skills, labour and know-how as fewer young farmers enter the livestock farming profession. Over-arching all of the issues outlined above are the impending changes to the current subsidy system which will inevitably pose a major challenge to UK farming. Opportunities Over the coming months SHEEP MATTERS will consider how the maximum value in UK sheep production may be ‘unlocked’ as a means of building resilience and ensuring continuity into the future. We will bring to life these issues through articles, analyses, interviews and case studies. Our aim is to provoke discussion and debate as well as to highlight where innovation in ideas and practice is contributing towards the long-term sustainability of UK sheep production. Employment What measures are being implemented to address the question of succession? How do we encourage young people to become sheep farmers? Building consumer demand Is the industry making the most of niche or new markets? How can producers exploit the high welfare, heritage, quality and environmental credentials of UK sheep meat? Are the demands for convenience and healthy red meat options being addressed? Public goods What is the role of sheep farming in delivering ‘public goods’? Does the sector gain value by enabling access to ‘wild spaces’ and contributing to a healthier and happier society? Should farmers be rewarded for their contribution? Skills development Are opportunities for skills development in the farming and rural sector being fully exploited? Building value in wool Can novel uses of sheep wool be exploited to increase the value in fleeces? Protecting genetic diversity Will the growth in the number of composite breeds and herds affect our traditional and rare breeds? Using sheep milk How are producers developing markets for sheep milk and related products such as yogurt and cheese? Protecting our environment Do upland farmers have a role to play in protecting threatened habitats, maintaining biodiversity and reducing flood risk? Eric Isselee© Climate change Is the value of upland sheep farming as a driver to build sustainable and vibrant rural communities adequately recognised and exploited? Vibrant communities Is the value of upland sheep farming as a driver to build sustainable and vibrant rural communities adequately recognised and exploited? 2017 AUGUST & SEPTEMBER 17

Sheep Matters - August/ September 2017