Rhys Edwards, Bridgend
- 600 crossbred ewes
- Lambing in February and April
- Lambing indoors
- A focus on ewe nutrition with the use of a TMR
Rhys Edwards is focussed on achieving high levels of animal performance and has really embraced EID technology to help collect information that will improve his business. Rhys already had some experience of using EID to record his flock but the HCC EID recording project enabled him to develop that capability further.
Rhys tags his lambs at birth and lambing indoors has allowed him to record individual birth weights.
Ensuring good ewe nutrition has been tackled with advice from a sheep advisor and the flock is fed on a TMR feeding system making use of cereals and soya. This system has significantly reduced feed costs and has led to savings of about £5 per ewe. By recording lambing results the impact of these savings can be assessed and the Rhys is confident that the system is working. The average weight of lambs at birth is just over 4kg and with a high proportion of twins this represents a good level of performance.
“Recording gives us the reassurance that the feeding system we have put in place is working. Weighing lambs at birth and recording the date on which they were born also gives the most accurate results for early lamb growth rate”.
Once lambing is over his focus moves to weighing lambs. Each time lambs are handled at Hendre-Ifan-Goch the lambs are weighed. Regular weighing means that the business knows exactly how the lambs are performing.
“The additional time taken is seconds and is nothing compared to the information which we gain. The weigher shows the weight of the lamb and with Bluetooth technology this information is instantaneously transferred to the reader. In no time at all the growth rate of the individual lamb is shown on the screen. As well as tracking the performance of the group it also means we can address any reductions in performance in an individual animal”.
There are no cattle or arable rotations on the farm so worm burdens are monitored through animal performance as well as by working with their farm vet. “The farm is sheep-only so we can get quite high worm challenges. We have actually found that lamb growth rate is a good predictor of when lambs need worming so we have improved lamb performance as a result of using EID”.
Maximising lamb weight at weaning has helped them to reduce production costs and by doing so the most efficient use of feed is ensured as well as maximising marketing options.
Once lamb selling begins, EID allows them to track when lambs are sold and the price received. When lambs are sold on a dead-weight basis they also collect the information on carcass weights and grades.
“Last year any excess ewe lambs were sold for breeding so not only did we use the EID reader but we were also able to supply buyers with the weights of the ewe lambs before purchase so it was clear what was being sold and what was being bought”.
Rhys also benefits from the ability to be able to weigh and track individual ewes. “Condition scoring is now routine and we have also recognised the importance of ewe management post-weaning with ewes gaining up-to 10 kg between weaning and tupping”.
Rhys has been carrying out his own trials to help understand what works for the flock and the business. “Carrying out our own trials has also added extra interest in the use of the EID and has given us better information on which to base decisions. For example, the farm suffers from trace element deficiencies and the problem is addressed by the use of boluses. We have tried various types of boluses and at least now we know which are the most effective on our farm”.
The family farm has also seen unexpected benefits in decision making. “The information recorded is a true reflection of the actual situation so we can now make decisions based on facts rather than opinions and in-turn we can monitor how the sheep respond to the management changes so it does help avoid potential arguments!”