As the colder weather approaches, now is the time for Sheep farmers to pay attention to Winter housing, making sure everything is in tip-top condition. Here are 5 Tips from Flockwatch to get you started with your Winter Prep.
5 Tips for Winter for Sheep Housing
1. Housing Health Check The majority of sheep will be housed this Winter, offering the land a welcome break from footfall. Sheep housing should be inspected, cleaned and disinfected well ahead of proposed housing date. During this check be sure to examine feed barriers, gates, pen dividers etc. for evidence of damage and repair accordingly. Check water troughs are clean and that fresh water is readily available. This is your last chance before housing to pick up any consumables you may need, such as water fittings or bulbs. You can make a note of this in the 'Records' section of the Flockwatch app, and it will remain in your to-do list until completed. House only when fleeces are dry, as wet fleeces can take as long as a week to dry out. Shearing at housing is always an option.
2. Flock/Mob Health Check
Parasite control and vaccinations are important when sheep are in close proximity indoors. Be sure to liaise with your veterinary practitioner to create a treatment plan for any sick or lame ewes. Best practice is to keep these ewes separate, until any infection has cleared before returning to the flock. Routine foot bathing before housing is also recommended, to minimise the risk of disease transfer indoors.
Remember to record all remedies and purchases in Flockwatch for full compliance, using custom groups and filters for batch dosing or foot bathing to get the job done even faster. You can access an overview of your medicine usage via the 'Remedy Records' and 'Watchboard' sections.
3. Feed Reserves
“A good shepherd always feeds his sheep first, even when he himself is hungry.”
Calculate your fodder and feed levels on farm, to ensure you have enough available for your flock for the months ahead. Did you know Herdwatch offer a FREE forage calculator, where we take the hassle out of calculating for you?
To use the Herdwatch Feed & Forage Calculator see the links below:
4. Weight Check and Grouping
Best practice is to pen ewes according to scanning results e.g. litter size. Think ahead, and also have an 'extra care' pen available for unexpected events such as triplet lambing's. Remember you can create groups and smart lists in Flockwatch, straight from the app so you'll know who's-who when it comes to your ewes.
For all year round lambing, Flockwatch allows you to record weights in the app, so you can monitor growth rates of lambs quickly and easily.
5. Check Lying and Feed Space
For maximum performance and comfort, sheep need adequate feed and lying space. Remember to allow extra space for 'extra care' ewes, such as those expecting triplets.In terms of lying space, aim for:
- 1.2m² for ewes weighing 70kg (About 1.1m² for slats)
- 1.4m² for ewes weighing 90kg (About 1.2m² for slats)
Feed space generally depends on feed type, with meal/concentrate feeding requiring a larger area per head at approximately 400-600mm for meal/concentrates and about 200mm for forage.
If space is tight, ensure adequate ventilation, as airflow and air circulation is important for the comfort and health of sheep, especially fleeced stock.
What if my sheep are out wintered?
Sheep can be successfully outwintered under certain conditions, such as moderate stocking rates, adequate ground conditions and access to supplementary feed where required.
Think about closing sheep paddocks now if you haven't started already, to ensure there is adequate grass available for the season ahead. Remember to graze to residual of about 4cm for a clean graze out before Winter. Did you know you can map your farm using 'Farm Maps by Herdwatch'? Farm Maps by Herdwatch allows you to create a map of your farm, simply using satellite imagery for FREE. This feature makes paddock selection quicker and flock or mob management easier.
Want to know more about 'Farm Maps by Herdwatch?