Tuesday, February 27, 2024

A comprehensive guide to a productive lambing season

A comprehensive guide to a productive lambing season. Lambing shed with pedigree Turret Charolais sheep and lambs on Katie Shanahan’s farm in Leap. Image source: Andy Gibson

With the lambing season on the horizon, the Shanahan family, where farmer and social media influencer Katie Shanahan is a prominent member, readies themselves for the busy period on their west Cork farm.

Renowned for overseeing both commercial and pedigree Charolais ewes, alongside a thriving suckler herd, Katie imparts her insights into the preparation, management, and optimisation of the upcoming lambing season.

Well-regarded in the agricultural community, Katie contributes part-time to the family farm, while working full-time with farm management company, Herdwatch in the marketing department.

Katie Shanahan. Image source: Pat Calnan

Katie said: “We have been using Herdwatch on the farm for over 4 years and I always loved the simplicity of the app, when the opportunity arose to work for such a well-developed and exciting agri-tech company, I knew it would be a role I would love.

“My life has always revolved around farming, and working for Herdwatch allows me to work day-to-day in the industry I love, with a product I am passionate about.”

Preparation for lambing season and the role of agri-technology

Katie emphasised the importance of meticulous preparation before, during and after lambing, acknowledging the significant impact it can have on the well-being of both ewes and lambs.

With the pedigree flock commencing lambing in early January, artificial insemination (AI) and embryo transfer (ET) methods are commonly used, reducing the lambing down period on the farm.

The Shanahan family, comprising of Katie, her brother Eamon, and father Raymond, engages in all-hands-on-deck efforts during the busy lambing days and nights.

Highlighting the challenges of managing a farm alongside full-time jobs, Katie underscores the role of agri-technology and software in maintaining a productive operation.

The Herdwatch App simplifies record-keeping, especially with ET and AI breeding methods.

Katie said: “Being able to scan the ewes’ EID tags and attach the details of the genetic dam and sire from the ease of my phone makes things so much easier.”

The app facilitates real-time tracking of sheep during lambing, ensuring seamless communication among family members.

Katie walks us through the crucial steps of pre-lambing care, emphasising the vital role of nutrition in the final weeks of gestation.

Underfeeding can lead to various complications, including higher lamb mortalities and susceptibility to diseases.

Katie introduces concentrates into the ewes’ diet in late pregnancy, compensating for the reduction in good-quality grass due to adverse weather conditions.

Research indicates that 70% of lamb growth occurs in the final six weeks of pregnancy.

Lambing is a pivotal time for a sheep farm, and adequate preparation is essential.

Katie suggests ensuring well-prepared lambing facilities, including hay racks, water sources, and meal containers in each pen.

The introduction of lambing cameras to the yard has proven transformative, allowing the Shanahan family to monitor their operation remotely.

(l-r) Jim Murphy, Frank Gibbons, Raymond Shanahan, Eamon Shanahan, Aibhlin Barry, Katie Shanahan. Image source: Mullagh Photography

Katie expresses the freedom granted by Herdwatch and other agri-tech aspects, such as their cameras.

“We are not constantly tied down to the farm between paperwork and lambing,” she said.

Lambing season

Katie details how the Herdwatch app streamlines record keeping, Katie records all births on the farm for both sheep and suckler enterprises in seconds through the app.

“Whether you’re creating a lambing record or registering a calf, it’s done in seconds from anywhere on the farm through my phone,” Katie said.

Additionally, Katie discusses the app’s role in maintaining a productive flock by reviewing breeding records and making informed decisions, especially when it comes to culling problematic ewes.

It is always important to look back after the breeding season to make decisions going forward.

Katie highlighted how they can use Herdwatch to check previous records on breeding ewes from her phone in the yard and make informed decisions regarding culling.

“It’s handy because we have all our treatments recorded in the app and we can use the culling tool to highlight problematic ewes for culling,” she added.

Katie’s guide to creating a lambing record on Herdwatch:

  • Tap on the orange ‘plus’ button (+);
  • Tap on ‘lambing record’;
  • Tap on ewe who’s lambed;
  • Fill in the required details – here Katie can select ’embryo transfer’ and select ‘genetic dam’.
  • Tap the ‘next’ button and this will bring you on to fill in the details of each lamb;
  • Fill out the gender – if they have been tagged, you can put it in their tag number. If not, they will be recorded with a lambing number;
  • Once details are filled in for each lamb, press the ‘save’ button.

How can I get the app?

You can join the Katie and over 21,000 other farmers on Herdwatch by downloading the app, and say goodbye to farm paperwork once and for all.

To get started on Herdwatch, click here to download the app from App store of Play Store call us in Roscrea on; 050534400.



IBLA hits €5,000 funding for legal advice on ICBF injunction

Charles O

Charles O’Donnell

January 23, 2024 9:51 am

IBLA hits €5,000 funding for legal advice on ICBF injunction

The Irish Beef and Lamb Association (IBLA) has successfully hit its €5,000 funding target to cover the costs of legal advice in its effort to seek an injunction against the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF).

The IBLA said that these funds will be drawn down once its selects a legal team.

The money was raised through the online funding platform GoFundMe, with donations being received from midday on Saturday (January 20).

The farm group is aiming to get a court injunction against the ICBF in order to prevent the latter from publishing animal evaluation results based on the new terminal and replacement beef breeding indices.

The decision to proceed with injunction plans was one of the conclusions of an IBLA-organised meeting in Athlone last Wednesday (January 17).

The IBLA was aiming to raise €5,000 for an initial legal opinion.

If, following legal advice, the IBLA proceeds with seeking an injunction, it will attempt to raise a further €20,000 to pay the necessary court costs. It is understood that this will also be done through GoFundMe.

During the meeting last Wednesday, the IBLA claimed that the board of the ICBF is “considered dairy-industry focused and does not appropriately consider beef farmer interests”.

The changes to the terminal and replacement beef indices that have been introduced by the ICBF have proven to be controversial, with some breeders claiming their herds have been devalued due to changes in the star ratings of their animals.

The ICBF has also come under fire for a perceived lack of consultation with breeders and farmers.

The IBLA had previously said that it will consider seeking the injunction “prohibiting the ICBF from sharing publicly any evaluations of cattle using the revised beef [indices] until the issue is resolved”.

The IBLA has held a series of meeting with representatives from several breed societies, claiming that the consensus from those meetings is that “legal action should be taken against ICBF to stop the use of the new indices until such a time as a full consultation process has been exercised and a full review of the indices is carried out”.


57,000 ESB customers still without power after Storm Isha

Charles O

Charles O’Donnell

January 23, 2024 8:16 am

57,000 ESB customers still without power after Storm Isha

As of this morning (Tuesday, January 23), some 57,000 ESB customers remain without power following Storm Isha at the weekend, down from the peak of 235,000 immediately after the storm.

The ESB told Agriland that around 178,000 customers have had their power restored since yesterday morning when ESB crews mobilised nationwide. productive lambing season

It is understood that the areas where customers remain without supply are predominantly in the northwest of the country, including counties Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Mayo and Sligo.

However, restoration efforts are likely to be hampered by the arrival of Storm Jocelyn, with the country set to take another round of strong, potentially damaging, winds.

“Met Éireann Status Orange and Yellow level wind warnings associated with Storm Jocelyn…may hamper restoration efforts in areas already most affected by Storm Isha,” the ESB warned.

The company also said that any impacted customers who use electrically-powered medical devices should contact their healthcare professional to make alternative arrangements if necessary.

“We apologise for the disruption to family and commercial life this causes, and thank customers across the country, especially those who will be without power…for their patience as our crews work to safely restore power.”

The company also stressed that anyone who comes across fallen wires or damaged electricity infrastructure should never touch or approach them, as they may be live and extremely dangerous. productive lambing season

Damage to electricity infrastructure should be reported to 1800 372 999.

Storm Jocelyn

Ireland will now have to face into another night of very strong winds as another storm, Storm Jocelyn, is on the horizon.

A series of weather warnings have been issued by Met Éireann in connection with this storm.

Status Orange wind warnings for counties Donegal, Galway and Mayo have been issued.

The warning for Donegal will be in place from 6:00p.m today until 2:00a.m tomorrow (Wednesday, January 24). The warning for Galway and Mayo will also begin from 6:00p.m this evening and will end at midnight.

The forecaster has warned of large coastal waves with wave overtopping; very difficult travelling conditions; fallen trees; damage to power lines; and damage to already weakened structures. productive lambing season

A Status Yellow wind warning will come into place for three counties from 12:00p.m today until 5:00a.m tomorrow morning. It will apply to counties Leitrim, Sligo and Donegal (with the exception of the period in which Donegal is under the Status Orange warning).

A Status Yellow wind warning has also been issued for counties Clare, Kerry, Galway and Mayo, coming into force from 12:00p.m today until 2:00a.m tomorrow morning.

Finally, all of Leinster, along with counties Cavan, Monaghan, Cork, Limerick, Tipperary, Waterford and Roscommon will enter a Status Yellow wind warning from 5:00p.m today which will remain in effect until 2:00a.m tomorrow morning. productive lambing season

It is possible that Met Éireann will update these warnings, or issue new ones, as the day progresses.