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List of participants:

  • Tim Keady (Researcher)
  • Darren Carty (Sheep specialist, Irish farmers journal)
  • John Renehan  (Farmer/ sheep breeder)
  • Seamus Fagan (Veterinarian)
  • John O’Rourke (Veterinarian)
  • Ken Matthews  (Farmer/ sheep breeder)
  • Anthony McShane (Farmer/ sheep breeder)
  • John Curley (Farmer/ sheep breeder)
  • John Lynskey (Farmer/ sheep breeder)
  • Brendan Joyce (farmer and Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association)
  • Ciara Long (Sheep Ireland)
  • John O’ Roarke (Vet)
  • Mervyn Foley (Dawn Meats)
  • Frank Hynes (Sheep specialist)
  • Damien Costello (advisor)
  • James Dunne (advisor)

 

 Apologies: Simon Byrne (consultant), Finbarr Kiernan (vet), John Brooks (farmer and ICSA National Sheep Chairman)

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Back row, L to R: D. Carty, J. Curley, J. Renehan, T. Keady.

Middle row, L to R: B. Joyce, D. Costello, F. Hynes, J. Lynskey, S. Fagan, J. O’Rourke.

Front row, L to R: C. Long, J. Dunne. A. McShane, K. Mathews, M. Foley.

 

Tim Keady opened the meeting by explaining the purpose of the meeting and presented the agenda. Each member introduced themselves (i.e. name, where from, role in the sheep sector etc.).Tim provided an overview of SheepNet, the organisations and countries involved and its aims etc.  Tim then presented the SheepNet sheep productivity survey which was undertaken in Spring 2017. The results were presented for Irish producers, other Irish stakeholders (advisors, scientists, vets etc.) and the total survey i.e. Europe and Turkey.

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The following issues were discussed:

  1. ewe genotype – challenge and needs to improve.
  2. hill versus lowland – the importance to treat the two enterprises seperatley
  3. The need to get information to people who don’t engage with open days, discussion groups etc.
  4. The focus of SheepNet, which is ewe productivity.

 

The 3 main factors influencing sheep productivity (reproductive efficiency, gestation efficiency and lamb mortality) were discussed in detail. Following discussion of the survey, for each of the main factors influencing sheep productivity the 5 main sub topics were selected from the survey and amended, if required, following discussion.  The participants of the meeting were divided 5 into subgroups for a ‘round robin’ break-out session to identify specific and common end user needs of Irish producers. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 3 main factors influencing sheep productivity were discussed as follows:

  1. Reproductive efficiency

The survey, in Ireland, identified the following as the main issues/challenges/needs/requirements to achieving a high breeding performance:

  1. body condition score
  2. nutrition/grassland management
  3. flock health status
  4. ram management
  5. ewe:ram ratio

Following discussion it was agreed that

  1. ram management and ewe:ram ratio be combined together
  2. ewe genotype is an important factor and should be included as one of the 5 main issue/challenges/needs/requirements to achieving a high pregnancy success.

Thus the following 5 areas were agreed by the group and circulated in the round robin breakout groups:

  1. body condition score

b)         nutrition/grassland management

c)         flock health status

d)         ram management and ewe:ram ratio

e)         ewe genotype

 

  1. Pregnancy success

The survey, in Ireland, identified the following as the main issues/challenges/needs/requirements to achieving a high pregnancy success:

  1. nutrition | grassland management
  2. pregnancy diagnosis – more information on benefits
  3. abortion control and prevention
  4. mineral nutrition
  5. internal parasite control

It was agreed that

  1. mineral nutrition be included with nutrition and grassland
  2. body condition score is an important  issue and should be included.

Thus the following 5 areas were agreed by group and circulated in the round robin breakout groups:

  1. nutrition | minerals | grassland management during pregnancy
  2. abortion control and prevention
  3. pregnancy diagnosis – more information on benefits
  4. parasite control
  5. body condition score

 

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  1. Management issues involved in achieving low lamb mortality

Following discussion it was agreed that this heading should be changed to ‘non animal issues involved in achieving low lamb mortality’.

 

The survey identified the following as the main non animal issues/challenges/needs/requirements to achieving low lamb mortality, were agreed by the group and circulated in the round robin breakout groups:

  1. advanced preparation for lambing.
  2. labour availability and organisation
  3. hygiene
  4. sheep shed (air circulation, bedding, hygiene…)
  5. nutrition | grassland management

 

  1. Main animal issues in achieving low lamb mortality.

The survey identified the following as the main animal issues/challenges/needs/requirements to achieving low lamb mortality:

  1. colostrum issues
  2. lamb vigour at birth
  3. lamb birth weight
  4. lambing difficulty
  5. litter size

 

 

 

The following issues were raised/discussed:

  1. vaccination for e coli as a method of preventing scour especially with increasing anti-microbial resistance
  2. ewe age of should be included as older ewes can be more problematical

Thus the following 5 areas were agreed by group and circulated in the round robin breakout groups:

  1. colostrum issues
  2. lamb vigour at birth
  3. lamb birth weight and lambing difficulty
  4. litter size
  5. vaccinations

 

Tim provided details of the transnational workshops stating that there were 5 in total, 2 each year. The first transnational workshop will occur in Edinburgh on 8-9th June.Tim asked for expressions of interest to attend the Edinburgh meeting. James Dunne, Brendan Joyce and John Curly expressed an interest in attending. Tim thanks everyone for attending and closed the meeting at 1.40pm.

Date of next meeting :  November 2017

 

 

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