Sheep experts from Scotland’s Rural College have taken part in an international workshop in Spain designed to increase ewe productivity (number of lambs reared per ewe joined).
SheepNet, an EU-funded project involving the six main EU sheep-producing countries (the UK, Ireland, France, Romania, Spain and Italy), plus Turkey, sees stakeholders share farmers’ tips and tricks to tackle issues affecting the industry.
Of the 76 tips and tricks from all partner countries, plus Hungary and Australia and New Zealand, that were presented in Spain, the top five were as follows:
• Water supply to multiple lambing pens from one source to reduce labour (Ireland)
• Use of electronic ID recording tool to improve productivity (Turkey)
• Moving gate to put sheep through the race without stressing them (Australia)
• Dealing with enlarged teats by taping the normal teat to encourage lambs to suck the large one (Ireland)
• A barrier to prevent lambs from jumping in the feed trough (France)
Dr Claire Morgan-Davies, who attended the event alongside SRUC colleagues Professor Cathy Dwyer and Poppy Frater, said: “The EU is only 85 per cent self-sufficient in sheep meat and is the largest importer of sheep meat worldwide. An increase in EU ewe productivity by 0.1 lambs reared per ewe joined would increase self-sufficiency in sheep meat to 92 per cent. Ewe productivity is one of the main factors impacting on profitability of prime lamb production so these SheepNet events are an excellent way to share best practice.”
SheepNet will hold its next transnational workshop in Sardinia next November.