Attention turns to breeding for the INZAC flock

The Teagasc INZAC flock, consisting of 180 ewes, is in its third full year of production. The flock is comprised of 120 Irish Suffolk and Texel ewes – split 50:50 between each breed – and 30 New Zealand Texel and 30 New Zealand Suffolk ewes.

Teagasc’s Dr. Fiona McGovern recently gave an update on the flock’s progress where she said: “Currently the INZAC Suffolk and Texel ewes are being sponged using Chronogest sponges and will receive an injection of 400iu PMSG prior to artificial insemination, which is due to take place on October 3 and October 10 this year.”

Prior to breeding, she said: “All ewes have been weighed, body condition scored and divided into mating groups.

As we use approximately 30 rams across the flock for mating, it is important that all ewes are allocated correctly to their mating group.

“Each of our ewes is artificially inseminated using fresh semen and subsequently run with rams for up to two repeat cycles,” she said.

Inbreeding analysis is carried out across all of the flocks, she said, to ensure that there is interrelationship between ewes and rams at mating.

“As our flock is linked to a wide proportion of the national pedigree Suffolk and Texel population, this is vitally important.”

A focus has also been placed on ram condition; rams have been body condition scored and are receiving 500g/day of concentrate to ensure that they reach a body condition score target of 3.5-4.0 at mating.

Lamb drafting

Fiona also touched on the performance of 2018 lambs, adding: “The remainder of the 2018 lambs continue to graze ahead of the ewes in a leader-follower system.

“Targeted supplementation during the dry summer months has meant that our drafting patterns are on target with 89%, 81% and 56% of lambs drafted from the New Zealand, Elite Irish and Low Irish groups respectively.”