New Zealand flock forges ahead with scanning results

The Teagasc INZAC flock, consisting of 180 ewes, is entering into 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.

Dr. Fiona McGovern gave farmers an update on the fertility performance (scanning results) of the INZAC flock recently. All INZAC ewes were pregnancy scanned in early January, she said, to assist pre-lambing management decisions.

Preliminary scanning results show an overall pregnancy rate to first service of 84%. Scan rates of 1.51 lambs per ewe were recorded for Irish low-genetic merit ewes (1-star ewes), 1.70 lambs per ewe for Irish high-genetic merit ewes (5-star ewes) and 1.82 lambs per ewe for the New Zealand ewes.

Late pregnancy nutrition

“Immediately after scanning, all ewes were weighed and body condition score (BCS) was taken before they were penned according to scanned litter size and lambing date,” Fiona explained.

Overall, ewes averaged 75kg liveweight. More importantly, she said, BCS was good at averages of 3.45, 3.35 and 3.22 for the low, high and New Zealand ewes respectively.

All ewes are offered grass silage (80% DMD) with concentrate.

Table: Concentrate allowances for ewes pre-lambing

Also Read: New Zealand genetics delivering the goods in Athenry

Grassland management

Fiona explained that soil samples were collected from all paddocks in mid-January. The results of these samples will be used to guide fertiliser applications for the year ahead.

To boost grass growth, nitrogen in the form of urea will be spread on all farmlets at a rate of 23 units per acre (half a bag). Once soil temperatures are above 6-7°, grass growth will occur and a response will be obtained, she said.