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SheepNet UK Newsletter – August 2019

 

NEWSLETTER

LANGUAGE: EN – DATE: 30/08/2019

 

SheepNet: what communication methods work best ?

 

 

The overall aim of SheepNet is to share knowledge to improve flock productivity across Europe. One factor that has been shown to have a significant effect on ewe productivity and the subsequent performance of her lambs is ewe body condition score (BCS). Body condition score is an important management tool for sheep flock right across Europe regardless of production system.  Body condition score is a measure of the body reserve status of the ewe. It is assessed on a five point scale, 1 being the thinnest and 5 being the fattest. Measuring BCS is done by hand, does not require any equipment, is easy to learn and overcomes differences in ewe weight due to age, breed or pregnancy status.

Having the flock at the correct BCS pre mating (3.5 to 4.0 in meat sheep, 3.00-3.50 in dairy sheep) will increase weaning rate through increases prolificacy and reduced barren rates. In meat sheep increasing BCS by one unit at mating (within a range of 2.5-4) will increase litter size by 0.13 lambs per ewe and the number of lambs reared per ewe joined by 0.10. In dairy sheep increasing BCs by one unit at mating (within a range of 2.5-4) will increase litter size by 0.20 lambs per ewe  and the number of lambs reared per ewe joined by 0.15 and will also increase milk yield by 12 kg per lactation in adult ewes.

As the main aim of SheepNet is sharing of knowledge, communication of information to stakeholders is of vital importance. As part of the transnational workshop in Sardinia each country presented a successful communication method used in their respective countries to disseminate the benefits and methods of using BCS as a management tool.

Many methods of communicating the benefits of BCS to stakeholders were demonstrated by the UK, Ireland, France, Italy and Spain. An example of the communication methods included the use of press articles both in weekly/monthly popular farming newspapers and magazines and also online farming press. This style of communication allows the delivery of a message at a time of year that is most relevant and also allows for pictures, videos and diagrams to help communicate the message. Online dissemination of booklets, slides and videos was also widely used and allowed stakeholders easy access to the information as and when they needed it. Workshops, discussion groups and training days were also a very popular method of communication as they allowed for two way communication, discussion and practical demonstration of the message being communicated.

More detailed descriptions of the abovementioned communication methods are available on the SheepNet website (www.sheepnet.network).

 

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