The Shepherd’s Year
The calendar below shows some of the various husbandry activities that take place on an Irish sheep farm throughout the working year.
Each farmer and each part of the country is different, but they will be involved in similar activities at different times throughout the year depending if the farmer houses sheep or not. Also when the farmer lambs depends on which market he aims for. There will be some duplication of tasks within the months of the year. For example if sheep are lame due to scald or foot rot they should be treated. See the article about lameness in sheep here
Most farmers consider their sheep year starts the month before the Ram goes to the Ewes . This depends on which season they are lambing for. If they want to lamb in March the Ram goes to Ewes in October so they start preparing Ewes in September. We will follow this mid-season lambing schedule as just an example.
Month 1 – September
Check feet: dip and clip
New Sheep Vaccinate with Clostridial, Toxoplasmosis, Pasteurella: More info here.
Dose for Worms: More info here.
Dagging (clip wool about the tail area of all Ewes)
Nutrition should be improved (increase of good grass and supplementary food.)
Month 2 – October
Introduction of Ram
Ewes on good grass/nutrition: More info here.
Month 3 – November
Watch feet and condition of Ram and Ewes
Remove Ram after 6 weeks; this has enabled the Ram to be present through 2 of the Ewes breeding cycles.
Keep Ewes on good nutrition, do not over feed.
Month 4 – December
Housing sheep: More info here.
Mid pregnancy Ewes should be safely pregnant so nutrition can be kept at maintenance levels.
90 days after mating scan Ewes for lamb numbers.
Month 5 – January
6 weeks out from 1st lambing date if Orf is a problem Vaccinate: More info here.
4 – 6 weeks out from 1st lambing vaccinate for Pasteurella and give Clostridial booster which protects new lambs for up to 100 days after birth: More info here.
Month 6 – February
Increase Nutrition: More info here.
Month 7 – March
Lambing: More info here.Trim feet deal with foot-rot
Dose Ewes for spring rise of worms
Turn out Ewes and young lambs to sheltered fields
Lambs very vulnerable to Magpie, Fox, Hooded Crow, Stray Dogs.
Improve nutrition for lactating Ewes
Month 8 – April
1st dose lambs at 5 – 6 weeks old for Nematodirus: More info here.
Month 9 – May
Watch for fly strike: More info here.
Lambs 10 weeks old dose for worms: More info here.
Dosing, Foot maintenance, Dipping, Shearing: More info here. and here.
Month 10 – June
Protect against fly strike: More info here.Pick out replacement Ewe lambs
Shearing, Dosing, Foot maintenance, Dipping
Weight & Draft, sell lambs
Month 11 – July
Weaning, sell market ready lambs before weaning.
Dose for worms: More info here.
Put Ewes on poor pasture and keep eye out for Mastitis
Start Clostridial Vaccinations for replacement Ewe lambs
Month 12 – August
Check condition of Ewes
Put replacement Ewe lambs into their own flock on good grass.