A growing pedigree enterprise has opened up new farm development opportunities for Lanark Blackface breeder Colin McEldowney. The family’s Slaughtneil farm in Co Derry is home to 300 ewes.
“I work in partnership with my father Seán and wife Keara,” Colin explained.
“We run a herd of 25 suckler cows in tandem with the sheep. Where the ewes are concerned, 200 are crossed with Blue Leicester rams to produce Mule lambs. The top 100 constitute the focus of the pedigree operation.
“Over the past number of years I have used semen from a selection of top Scottish rams in order to improve the breeding merit of the flock. This in turn, has provided me with the opportunity to sell stock of my own at official breed sales.
The McEldowney flock lambs down throughout April. The ewes carrying the Mules kick off at the beginning of the month with the pedigrees following from April 15th onwards. Like every other sheep producer, Colin is always seeking to maximise the output achieved from this flock. In this context, he recognises the benefits to be gained by boosting the animals’ mineral and vitamin levels at critical times of the year.
“The overall lambing rate across the flock this year was about 1.6,” Colin confirmed.
“And I was pretty happy with that figure. But keeping lambs alive and thriving is equally as important. I like to see the pedigree ewes lamb down with as many sets of twins as possible. This means that I will have more high value stock to sell come the autumn.”
Colin drenches all his ewes with ProVitaMin, the mineral and vitamin drench from Provita, a month prior to breeding and then again a month before lambing.
“The first drench helps boost ewe fertility levels while the second acts to increase lamb vitality. I also ensure that the ewes selected for AI receive the mineral and vitamin boost,” Colin explained.
“I also drench all the lambs with ProVitaMin prior to weaning. This ensures that growth rates are not reduced, once they are taken off their mothers.
Provita’s Kieran Donelly was a recent visitor to the McEldowney farm.
“ProVitaMin contains a range of chelated minerals, vitamins and trace elements in an ultra-concentrated liquid drench form. It contains all the essential minerals, vitamins and trace element that will provide breeding ewes with that all important nutritional boost pre tupping,” he said.
“It can also be used to boost lamb growth rates post weaning.”
ProVitaMin contains 25 different trace elements at an optimal level, in order to help correct deficiencies, improve fertility and growth rates. The high level of B vitamins helps stimulate appetite and the chelated metals allow for a slow release benefit.
Kieran went on to point out that ProVitaMin is easy to administer.
“It flows very easily and does not choke the animals,” he said.
“This is very important when administering products of this nature to young lambs in particular.
With the special offer it only costs around 35p a ewe so it is also great value for money.”