SWS scanning records: The optimum time to scan ewes for the most accurate estimate of litter size and to provide the opportunity to introduce supplementary feeding early to triplet- and quad-bearing ewes is 80 to 100 days post ram turnout.

Farmers participating in the Sheep Welfare Scheme need to ensure that the scanning receipt includes the number of ewes scanned and the breakdown in litter size.

The feeding programme also needs to be recorded either in the scheme action book or somewhere where it can be readily accessed in the case of an inspection.

The terms and conditions of the scheme highlight that the records need to specify the date on which feeding begins, the feeding rate offered and the volume of concentrates fed per ewe.

There is no obligation on farmers to follow a particular feeding programme. For example, the standard Teagasc late pregnancy feeding programme detailed in Table 1 can be used.

Some flocks use feed buckets in late pregnancy, others lambing outdoors use a combination of silage and concentrate supplementation or forage crops in the run-up to lambing and grass supplies for the period of lambing. The important aspect is that whatever programme is in place is recorded.

It is also permissible not to offer concentrate supplementation to single-bearing ewes in good body condition and with access to grass/forage of sufficient quality.

The Department advises that silage, hay or grass availability and ewe condition may be examined in an inspection if there is any doubt the feeding programme is not sufficient.

The Teagasc feeding programme detailed in Table 1 for a twin-bearing lowland ewe weighing 75kg to 80kg can generally be increased by 30% for triplet-bearing ewes and reduced by 30% for single-bearing ewes.

Liver fluke issues: There has been an increase reported in the number of ewes submitted for post-mortem examination to the Department’s Regional Veterinary Laboratories in recent weeks where acute liver fluke was identified as the cause of death.

Flocks on the western half of the country or run on ground with a history of liver fluke need to be mindful of the high risk.

The general treatment programme in outwintered flocks is November, January and April, with high-risk flocks following a narrow treatment window.

Remember that acute fluke is still a risk and therefore products should be selected that at least treat immature and mature stage of liver fluke.

Sheep census reminder: As detailed last week, the online sheep census portal opens on Friday 31 December. Failure to complete and submit a census application on time can affect payments such as the Sheep Welfare Scheme.