Tips to ensure your lambs comply with the Clean Livestock Policy

With the wet weather over the last number of weeks, the task of ensuring lambs fall into category A of the Clean Livestock Policy (CLP) is made the more difficult.

This is especially the case for lambs out on pasture, particularly those grazing forage crops and those being finished inside on straw bedding.

First off, an effective parasite control programme should be implemented to reduce scouring from internal parasites such as stomach worms, coccidia and liver fluke.

Lambs at grass

This time of the year, as ground conditions deteriorate and rainfall levels increase, it is more challenging to prevent soiling of sheep fleeces.

However, simple practices such as moving finishing lambs to clean pasture when conditions become muddy and by moving feeders regularly – in order to avoid poaching and muddy areas around feeders – can go a long way in preventing soiling.

Furthermore, raising drinking troughs and providing a hardcore area around the drinkers to keep these areas mud-free will also help.

Teagasc recommends avoiding routine free access to mineral supplements and to only treat animals for specific mineral and vitamin deficiencies.

Lambs indoors

Many finishers may have opted to move their lambs indoors due to the poor weather of late. If lambs are housed, it is important that they are in a well-ventilated shed.

If lambs are being bedded on straw, don’t spare it and replenish it regularly. On the flip side, if lambs are housed in a slatted unit, ensure that slats do not get blocked and that there is no build-up of faeces.

In the case of both straw and slatted pens, do not overstock and allow for adequate feed space.

Lambs on forage crops

Lambs that are being turned out to graze forage crops should be allowed to adjust to their new diet and provided a grass run back or hay.

It is also advisable to belly clip lambs before turning them onto crops (at least four weeks pre-slaughter).

If lambs are also being fed concentrates, again, it’s best to move feeders regularly to avoid poaching and muddy areas.

Ensure that sheep always have a dry lying area. On free-draining soils the crop itself may provide this. However, on heavier soils or during wet weather a grass runback or straw bedded area should be provided.

Getting lambs ready for the factory

When getting lambs ready for the factory, it is best to avoid unnecessary mixing of groups of sheep pre-sale. Also, dag dirty lambs prior to transport and house on straw bedding or clean slats.

Furthermore, withdraw feed from sheep for a minimum of eight hours pre-slaughter. However, do not restrict water where the housing period is longer than eight hours. If at all possible, try to ensure that lambs are dry.

Transport

When lambs are being sent to the factory and loaded, make sure that you are using a well-ventilated and roofed mode of transport.

Ensure that the trailer/truck is clean, dry and has absorbent materials on the floor. If decks are being used ensure that faeces/urine from the higher decks does not soil sheep on the lower decks.