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1 August 2019

July Wool Report

This week The Country's Jamie Mackay is joined by PGG GM for wool Grant Edwards to talk about the end of the 2018/19 season and how the start of the new season is looking.

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Influencing lamb survival

01 August 2019

Now that ewes are pregnant, the focus turns to maximising the survival of lambs to ensure profitability of the sheep breeding system.

Placental development influences lamb birthweight, which in turn strongly determines survival rates post birth. The development of the placenta between 30 to 90 days has the greatest effect on subsequent birthweights of lambs. Bodyweight loss in the ewes during this zone of greater than 5 kg (approximately half Body Condition Score (BCS) unit or more) has been linked with lower birthweights, particularly in multiple lambs, and with survival of these lambs impacted.

Ewes need to eat approximately 1.3 to 1.5 kg DM of good quality grass to maintain pregnancy through this early to mid-point of pregnancy. If areas are short of available feed and the temptation is to restrict feed intakes during this stage, then lamb birth weights can be severely impacted.

Ultrasound scanning occurs between days 60 to 90 of pregnancy. This gives important information on status and helps identify multiple carrying ewes which have higher energy demands as pregnancy proceeds. 

This scanning process provides an opportunity to physically BCS ewes while in the yards. Separate light ewes below BCS 3 and preferentially feed with energy dense, high protein feed in the next 30 days before rumen fill is restricted by the rapidly growing foetuses in the last month of pregnancy.

If quality feed is short in supply, then serious consideration of supplementary feed, for instance sheep nuts or dehydrated molasses blocks containing bypass protein, are good options for providing extra nutrients. Introduce slowly to this high priority group. 

Foetal growth in the last 50 days of pregnancy is rapid and coincides with significant udder development by the ewe for subsequent colostrum production and lactation. Rumen space is restricted resulting in an inability to physically eat enough energy or protein for the demands of the multiple foetuses. Feed restriction at this stage of pregnancy increases metabolic problems for the ewe, and results in poor milk quality and quantity for the lactation. With severe feed restrictions, ketosis (sleepy sickness) or hypocalcaemia (milk fever) occur and result in higher rates of lamb deaths and often ewe deaths. These problems are all preventable through identifying at-risk ewes early and feeding optimally highly nutritious feeds.

Lamb deaths at lambing and in the first few days post-lambing are due to the big three: dystocia (difficult birth), starvation or exposure. Lamb birthweight, which is already set by this stage, is the main influence in the starvation/exposure complex especially in multiples. 

Lambs that are small have less brown fat and are prone to the effects of hypothermia. If you come across these weak cold lambs, then immediate energy is required before you warm them up. Intraabdominal glucose administration increases survival of these lambs. Once glucose is on board, then lambs should be warmed and fed with milk once responsive.

So, the take home point to maximise the number of live lambs this spring is having ewes well fed throughout pregnancy, optimising lamb birthweight, ewe milk production and maternal behaviour. If you have any questions on lambing, contact your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative.

How are you tracking?

06 August 2019

How are you tracking? Is NAIT compliance weighing heavy on your mind and tracking the right animals consumes valuable daylight? You can take out the guess work and human error with a Tru-test EID Stick Reader.

Do you want to keep things streamlined and simple or do you want to dive into the data? Tru-test has a range of reliable EID Readers and weighing technology that suit every size and type of farm. 
The SRS2 Stick reader quickly and easily reads, records and transfers EID tag information. Keep track of individual animals with the easy-to-use, ergonomically designed SRS2 EID Stick Reader. Suitable for cattle, sheep and deer. The SRS2 features a large, highly readable screen to display the session count, EIDs and pre-loaded visual ID numbers. Its long 650mm reach length enable you to keep a safe distance when scanning those lively animals and the rugged, waterproof design has been tested in the tough agricultural environment. 

With 19 hours of battery the SRS2 can outlast most farmers. Its Bluetooth wireless technology connects with your weigh scale and means you can easily send session information to NAIT via the Data Link smartphone app - without you having to sort or download the data on your computer! This allows for easy animal transfers and tracking, helping you to get well on the road to being NAIT compliant. It has memory space for up to 250,000 scanned tags and has fast tag reads with feedback through a vibrating handle. Its smart scan will alert you if you try to double scan an animal and you can easily delete animal data right on the stick reader. Test your speed against the SRS2 as it can read up to 1,100 tags every minute. 

The SRS2 is a simple design with ease-of-use being front of mind. For more data driven farmers the XRS2 provides more in depth functions but both stick readers are compatible with NAIT tags and Bluetooth across to your phone and Tru-test weigh scales. Data Link is available on both Android/Apple phones. Tru-test’s service doesn’t stop at the store – you’re local territory manager will help you set it up and teach you how to get the most out of your EID reader. 

For more information on the SRS2 Stick Reader, contact your local PGG Wrightson team.

PGG Wrightson Livestock Roundup 9 August 2019

14 August 2019
Mark Leishman caught up with Peter Moore, GM of PGW Livestock on Country TV’s Roundup on Friday, 9th August.
Listen to the full interview and find out about the current market conditions, the changes in the landscape for bobby calves, and what’s happening with stock being sold on bidr.

Market update
The sheep and beef market is very strong with sheep farmers getting really good returns for their lambs.  The strength in the market is being driven by overseas demand.
In contrast to sheep and beef, confidence in the dairy industry is low as it remains in a state of flux and with the GDT remaining fairly much unchanged.

Bobby Calves
There are more animals coming from the Dairy Industry into the beef industry as dairy farmers are recognising the value in beef cross calves that can be reared on to 100 kg.  Alongside supporting improved animal welfare, it’s a great opportunity for farmers to make a little bit more out of their calves.

bidr update
bidr is gaining good momentum through their regular weekly livestock sales which started in early July.  A large number of users have signed up as registered buyers/sellers and a good number of sales have seen total clearances.

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