Welcome to the SheepNet newsletter for July 2019 with news about the recent fantastic transnational conference held in Athlone, Ireland. Over 80 delegates attended from the 7 SheepNet countries (Ireland, France, Italy, Romania, Spain, Turkey and UK) and Hungary and Finland. The main focus of the conference was to study prime lamb production from grass based systems and to review the farmer’s evaluations of the solutions that they implemented to improve flock productivity and profitability.
The first visit was to the Kepak meat processing plant in Athleague where delegates received a comprehensive tour of the abattoir and were given the opportunity to see the full production line right through to the boxing of the finished product.
The next stop was the farm of John Curley in Roscommon. John demonstrated excellent grassland management to the European delegates and discussed the management practises needed to wean 1.85 lambs per ewe joined to the ram and to have 95% of lambs drafted for slaughter by early October without concentrate supplementation.
The next farm visit was to the farm of Richard and Ken Mathews in Offaly. Last year the Mathews’ weaned 2.2 per ewe joined to the ram. This high litter size resulted in surplus lambs which are artificially reared on an automated feeder. The Mathews’ flock are managed alongside a tillage enterprise on the farm which facilitates including Typhon for the sheep enterprise. Last year 90% of lambs were drafted for slaughter by mid-October from a forage only diet.
The Transnational conference included a presentation on the SheepNet programme to date, the Irish sheep industry and Teagasc. Farmer evaluations of solutions tested over the previous six months were assessed proving very interesting to hear how beneficial the solutions were, directly from the farmers who implemented them.
The delegates also visited the Teagasc sheep research centre in Athenry, Co. Galway, where they were treated to a tour and presentations from research staff outlining the research being undertaken. Topics covered included, ewe life-time performance, effect of age at first mating on performance, effect of genotype on performance, mineral supplementation, animal behaviour and lamb mortality, grassland management and the evaluation of breeding indexes.
The final stop on the Irish transnational conference was a parasitology and post mortem workshop held in the regional veterinary laboratory in Athlone. This workshop gave a great insight into the techniques and resources used to diagnose parasite issues on Irish farms and also outlined the best practises to deal with parasite issues.
Check out all the pictures and videos of the Irish transnational conference on the SheepNet Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts.
The final SheepNet seminar will be held in France on the 3rd and 4th of September. This seminar will be a fantastic opportunity to learn about French sheep production and to discover all that SheepNet has achieved over the past 2 year. Go to the website to register your interest (www.sheepnet.network/news) as soon as possible, to reserve a place.