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How a farm has lowered lameness to 2% in an open flock

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The Mouland household have lowered lameness from 10% to 2% and reduce antibiotic use by 30% by addressing the problem of working an open flock proactively.

Michael, Jo and their son, Richard, run a big flock of two,300 North Nation Mules at Horn Farm, close to Chard.

They’ve at all times sourced between 200 and 300 ewe lamb replacements yearly. However this comes with inherent illness administration challenges, admits Richard Mouland.

One of many largest complications has been managing lameness which peaked at about 10% 4 to 5 years in the past.

See additionally: Why farmers ought to sort out sheep lameness earlier than summer time spike

According to FAI Farms’ 5-Level Plan they’ve adopted strict quarantine protocols, developed a strict culling coverage and put away foot-trimming knives to assist fight this.

Farm details

  • 2,300 North Nation Mules, switching to Romneys
  • Lambing open air in April
  • Ewes mated to Sufftex, Suffolk and Dorset Easycare rams
  • Tenant farmers, farming 729ha (1,800 acres)
  • Rising 154ha (380 acres) of wheat, barley, beans and maize
  • 225 Angus and Hereford-cross suckler cows
  • 150 dairy calves purchased annually and brought by to ending
  • Completed lambs and cattle bought to ABP.

Shopping for-in coverage and quarantine procedures

Charlotte and Richard Mouland © Synergy Farm Well being

Richard’s spouse, Charlotte Mouland, who’s a vet with Synergy Farm Well being, and her colleague, sheep specialist Emily Gascoigne, have helped develop strict quarantine requirements as a part of a complete flock well being plan.  

Lately the household have moved away from shopping for replacements at market in favour of shopping for ewe lambs from one identified supply.

This farmer is proactively screening for iceberg illnesses and doesn’t common-graze sheep.

The seller additionally ensures the lambs obtain their first Heptavac P dose to manage clostridial illness and pasteurellosis earlier than they arrive.

Purchased-in sheep are saved separate from the primary flock till they’re two-tooth.

In addition they endure a complete vaccination programme and are absolutely vaccinated in opposition to enzootic abortion and toxoplasmosis.  

Immediate remedy and common prevention

Any lame ewes are separated from the primary flocks to stop an infection unfold and are handled promptly with antibiotics.

“Understanding the place the bugs are inside your flock and holding these sheep remoted from the primary flock is essential,” says Miss Gascoigne, who provides that having ‘clear’ and ‘soiled’ teams additionally makes culling choices a lot simpler.

Moreover, sheep are foot-bathed not less than month-to-month, or each time they’re collected within the farmyard, to cut back an infection stress. A transfer to outside lambing has additionally aided this.

“Gathering sheep is high-risk since you are working plenty of sheep in a small space. The footbath is used as a lot as a disinfectant to stop energetic an infection,” says Miss Gascoigne.

Culling and foot-trimming

Ewes are culled after their second lameness occasion.

“It’s exhausting to begin with since you are eliminating fairly a lot of ewes, however it has positively made a distinction,” says Mr Mouland.

Owing to the flock measurement, particular person recording hasn’t been carried out. As an alternative, ewes are ear-notched or marked with spray to establish these repeat offenders.

“At weaning, we additionally have a look at misshapen toes,” provides Mrs Mouland.

“Addressing lameness is a present that retains on giving as a result of it means you may go up a notch with culling choices,” says Miss Gascoigne.

Routine foot-trimming is now not carried out as a result of analysis exhibits this will transmit an infection from sheep to sheep.

“One in all our hardest battles has been persuading Dad to place his shears away,” admits Mr Mouland.

“Trimming wasn’t doing something apart from make me really feel higher about myself. Now the sheep get higher on their toes faster and it’s one much less job to do,” he provides.

Lameness scoring

Emily Gascoigne © Synergy Farm Well being

Miss Gascoigne visits the farm quarterly for half a day at key instances – usually earlier than tupping, at scanning, lambing, and round eight weeks post-lambing – to mobility-score sheep.

Mobility scoring at tupping is essential as a result of it permits early identification and separation of lame ewes earlier than lactation.

This ensures an infection doesn’t go to lambs throughout lactation and create a vicious cycle of an infection, she says.

“Lame ewes this 12 months have been saved separate from tupping and they’re nonetheless separated from the primary flocks now,” explains Mr Mouland.

“The mobility rating at tupping is crucial to make sure every part is ready up for a profitable lambing and lactation,” provides Miss Gascoigne.

Enhancements

As a result of lameness prevalence throughout lactation is low, lameness in lambs has been lowered, which has accelerated ending instances.

“Final April, we had 1,000 hoggs left. This 12 months, we solely had 300 and so they have been all passed by the tip of April.

“Our ewes additionally preserve situation quite a bit higher than they used to – they’re extra even all year long,” says Mr Mouland.

Future

The plan long run is to shut the flock and breed their very own replacements to enhance flock well being.

As a part of this plan, the Moulands bought 60 Romneys a few years in the past and plan to purchase an extra 200 to 300 this 12 months, breed them pure and construct up numbers.  

In addition they consider Romneys will higher deal with the difficult atmosphere.

Mr Mouland explains: “Most of our grazing is everlasting pasture, which is in varied atmosphere schemes.

“It’s first rate parkland at finest and the Mules are usually not thriving nutritionally, whereas it’s a battle to maintain situation off the Romneys.”

He says the enter from Miss Gascoigne has been invaluable.

“By adopting this proactive strategy underneath Emily’s knowledgeable eye – and due to our sound quarantine procedures for bought-in ewe lambs – we have been capable of flip the lameness drawback round.

“Sheep farmers are fairly unhealthy at utilizing the vet, however the visits have greater than paid for themselves with the antibiotic discount,” he provides.

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