Lamb performance: Reports indicate that lamb performance is running ahead of normal for the time of year.

Daily liveweight gain has been boosted by relatively positive weather conditions giving rise to greater utilisation of forage while a greater percentage of nutrient intake is being apportioned to liveweight gain over maintenance requirements.

This has contributed to the spike in lamb throughput in recent weeks and is also feeding in to reports of some overweight lambs being slaughtered. Performance of lambs on intensive concentrate finishing diets will typically be in the region of 200g to 250g per day from an average intake of 1.1kg to 1.4kg but it can increase in individual lambs to 300g to 400g or higher in isolated cases where lambs are consuming higher volumes of feed.

As such, it is important to weigh lambs regularly and draft at the appropriate weights as while current farmgate prices will leave a margin over feed, costs exceeding paid carcase weights will quickly eat in to margins.

Regular weighing will also identify lambs with stagnated performance which are better off being drafted.

Liver fluke treatment: Sheep and cattle farmers have another treatment option for liver fluke following the introduction of a product called Fascionix 34% to the Irish market. The product is being imported by Interchem under a special EU licence which has been approved due to the absence of Trodax 34%.

Fascionix 34% is classed as a bioequivalent to Trodax 34% which means it has the same properties. The active ingredient is Nitroxynil, with a concentration of 340mg/ml. The injectable product is delivered subcutaneously and is listed as being effective against immature and mature stages of liver fluke as well as Haemonchus contortus (commonly known as barbers pole worm).

There are three administration rates listed, with the first at 1ml per 35kg liveweight along with 1.25ml/35kg liveweight for acute fasciolosis (immature fluke), while Interchem is recommending a catch-all administration rate of 1.5ml/35kg liveweight for immature liver fluke parasites from six weeks.

As was the case with Trodax, it is important that farmers treat ewes to the correct liveweight. The withdrawal period is 60 days and product is available in 100ml and 250ml sizes.

Sheep census: Documentation has been circulated in the last week regarding the 2021 annual sheep and goat census.

The portal for submitting 2021 census information will not open until 31 December. Online submission of information via has the benefit of instant confirmation that data has been submitted.

It can be accessed by logging on to your account, selecting the ‘Animal Identification and Movements’ heading followed by the ‘sheep keeper’ option on the next portal. This will bring you through to an almost blank page with a number of options in the top left corner.

Click on ‘sheep census’, which will then present a number of options – click on ‘create’.

This will bring you through to this year’s portal. There is also a facility to amend your census, view previous years’ data, order dispatch booklets and view historical movement information.

Christmas wishes: I would like to wish all readers and their families a happy and safe Christmas and all the best for 2022.