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Finishing lambs on grass with an eye on the bottom line

Cumbrian Farm Walk
Cumbrian Lameness Workshop
Moredun team in Cumbria
Sustainable worming workshop

Moredun and the Farmers Network recently joined forces on farm in Cumbria to produce a very informative and interesting livestock production event.

Kindly hosted by James and Tom Stobart of Croglin High Hall, Armathwaite and their farm vet Brian Mundell of Capontree Vets, the afternoon event on Thursday 24th August was attended by nearly 80 farmers, vets and industry specialists. 

The afternoon started with a farm walk led by the Stobart brothers who pointed out the rotational grazing system set up to promote best use of grass which, as James explained, is the cheapest form of feeding for lambs and key to the efficiency of lamb and beef production on the farm. Their overall aim was to keep liveweight gain as high as possible while reducing costs associated with feed and fertilizer and the figures proved that this was being achieved with a tightly monitored rotational grazing system.  As Tom explained “more fences = more grass!”

The event also featured practical workshops including the important production limiting subject of sheep lameness. Local vet, Brian Mundell, concentrated on the common causes of lameness including CODD, footrot and scald and the effective treatments and strategies that could be implemented to control them. He outlined how this farm had drastically reduced lameness in their flock by close attention to foot health and rigorous culling. James added that initially they were culling fairly large numbers but gradually the numbers culled had reduced and now they had very few lame sheep and if they did see lameness, they treated as soon as they could. He concluded that this was another benefit of rotational grazing paddocks, as they were moving the sheep every few days, they caught lame ones quickly before infection could spread through the group.

A second workshop reiterated the message for close attention to detail but this time when achieving effective and sustainable worm control. Moredun’s Dr Fiona Kenyon explained the problems of blanket worming and the development of anthelmintic resistance, which we all should be very worried about. With the use of a combi-clamp, weigh head and stick reader, kindly donated for the day by Ritchies, Fiona outlined an alternative approach by using EID when weighing lambs routinely to establish LWG and direct anthelmintic treatment to those lambs not making target weights. Fiona explained that the advantage of this method is that it has been shown to reduce anthelmintic usage without compromising LWG in lambs.

Both workshops involved practical demonstrations and provoked excellent discussions. The benefits of measuring, using diagnostics and data to improve production and reduce disease were the take home messages from the event. These messages were again highlighted by the Farmers Network farm trial workshop where results from local farm based trials in subjects such as micronutrient supplementation were discussed. It was concluded again that measuring where you are before you supplement is critical for optimum growth, performance and economics.

The day was described as being very informative, useful and friendly by those attending and was successfully rounded up with a barbecue serving Wagyu beef burgers, kindly supplied by the Yorkshire Wagyu Company and thoroughly enjoyed by everyone.