Improve ewe fertility this tupping season with Crystalyx

Sean Cavanagh runs a 200-strong flock of breeding ewes, split 60%-40% into lowland and upland groups. He farms on dry ground, near the village of Easky in Co. Sligo. Sheep are the only enterprise on the farm.

So, despite the recent spell of wet weather, his ground has taken no hurt and grass availability is excellent.

Sean lambs his lowland ewes in three groups: those lambing in mid-January; mid-February; and mid-March. His upland horned ewes will lamb in April and into May.

The hill flock is crossed with a mix of Texel, Border Leicester and Suffolk rams, thereby providing him with the replacements he needs for the other breeding groups. Sean buys-in replacement horned ewe lambs and hoggets as required.

Flushing effectively is critically important

All the lambs born on the farms are brought through to finishing weights. The main focus of Sean’s attention over recent weeks has been on getting his early lambing group bred successfully.

He commented: “There are 40 ewes in the first group. Their target lambing date is mid-January. The ewes were sponged on August 20, after which they were brought indoors and split into groups of no more than six animals. These were then hand mated with a mix of Texel, Suffolk and Charollais rams.

“As soon as the ewes have been mated, they are put back out to grass. I have been keeping a close eye on the ewes over recent days. They have now gone and completed a full oestrous cycle since mating and not one of them has shown any sign of repeating.”

Sean is quick to confirm that lamb numbers are a key determinant of any lowland sheep enterprise. Flushing them effectively is, therefore, critically important.

To make this happen, the ewes are put onto top quality grass three to four weeks before breeding. Significantly, Sean also puts Crystalyx Extra High Energy feed buckets in with the ewes at this time.

“I have been taking this approach for a number of years and it works extremely well. The feed blocks help ensure that the ewes are making best use of the grass that is available to them,” he said.

As a consequence, the improvement secured in their body condition is marked. This, in turn, has a very positive impact on fertility.

Sean is in a unique place in being able to follow his lambs right through from birth to the final consumer. This is because a significant proportion of the lambs he produces are sold through his son’s local butcher shop.

“Sustainability is all about delivering what the consumer wants as efficiently as possible,” he said. “The starting point for all of this is ensuring that fertility levels within the ewe flock are as good as they possibly can be.”

Demand continues to grow

Luke Morgan, from Caltech Crystalyx, and Eamon Killeen, the manager of the Aurivo Homeland store in Easky, were recent visitors to the Cavanagh farm.

Pictured from left to right: Luke Morgan; Sean Cavanagh; and Eamon Killeen

Luke pointed out that Crystalyx Extra High Energy feed buckets can significantly and economically improve animal performance for sheep.

Independent trial work carried out at Newcastle University has shown that Crystalyx increases the rate of forage digestion by rumen bacteria (by up to 10%). In turn, this stimulates forage intakes due to a reduced gut fill effect, increasing grass intake rather than replacing it.

Luke further explained: “Crystalyx also increases forage digestibility so animals actually get more energy out of what they eat. These benefits continue throughout the grazing season, as long as forage supplies remain plentiful.

“The Extra High Energy buckets provide all the minerals, trace elements and vitamins needed to balance grass, which is essential for optimum animal performance and health.

“But the rumen bugs also need minerals to help them digest the grass and the little and often trickle feeding system supplied by Crystalyx is an ideal method of ensuring this.

Crystalyx also provides a concentrated source of sugar. This is important to help maintain rumen digestive efficiency.

Eamon confirmed that demand for Crystalyx continues to grow throughout the entire Aurivo catchment area the year round.

“Flock owners will use the buckets prior to breeding, in the run up to lambing and, again, after the ewes have gone out to the fields with their newborn lambs. It’s all about improving performance from grazed grass.”

Further information

To find your nearest Crystalyx stockist and to learn more about Crystalyx, then just click here