NFU Mutual Smallholding Insurance

Author Topic: Sponging sheep  (Read 4097 times)

Foobar

  • Joined Mar 2012
  • South Wales
Re: Sponging sheep
« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2017, 10:05:31 am »
 :thumbsup:
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twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Sponging sheep
« Reply #16 on: May 23, 2017, 10:16:55 am »
I am tempted to sponge our small flock this year, need to speak to the vet about it really. Our lambing was drawn out and space is at a premium as the cows are in and calving too, so if I could lamb everything in a week (aside from returns) and get them out it would be a huge help  :thinking:

farmers wife

  • Joined Jul 2009
  • SE Wales
Re: Sponging sheep
« Reply #17 on: May 23, 2017, 10:29:27 am »
interesting.


We have 100 ewes ish and two tups.  We lambed over 3 weeks. Which I think it pretty good with 170%.  We dont raddle and any not in lamb (4 I think) went for culls.


A serious consideration is service cost and labour cost to do this.  Also depends on fertility at age.  I'd be careful doing this on yearlings due to the thought of having to be up all night assisting.  For us this isnt an option. Although on big sheep units this isnt a problem.


Think its a good idea for those who work full time.

harmony

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Sponging sheep
« Reply #18 on: May 23, 2017, 11:04:00 am »
I am tempted to sponge our small flock this year, need to speak to the vet about it really. Our lambing was drawn out and space is at a premium as the cows are in and calving too, so if I could lamb everything in a week (aside from returns) and get them out it would be a huge help  :thinking:


Well done Womble. Just a word of caution though sponging usually works to give you a tight lambing but it is not guaranteed.


Also vets may not split a bag of sponges if they haven't other customers and they come in packs of 25. They do have a good shelf life if you reseal. Ours cost around £80 for 25 sponges and an applicator, which of course you can use again and some people don't bother with one. Then there is the cost of the injection when you remove the sponges.

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: Sponging sheep
« Reply #19 on: May 23, 2017, 12:16:46 pm »
I think it's for each of us to weigh up and decide what's best for our flocks. I totally get that nothing is guaranteed, and we'll see if we do as well next year.

Re the cost, the ones we bought were from somebody on here who had spare, so it wasn't too bad. Also because we were tupping during the usual time (November) we didn't need any injections. Labour cost isn't an issue for us, since the time taken to insert and remove the sponges was insignificant compared with the time saved by shortening the lambing period.

Another bonus for small flocks is that by having them lambing close together, there's more chance of being able to twin on triplets etc.

Also depends on fertility at age.  I'd be careful doing this on yearlings due to the thought of having to be up all night assisting.

Can you explain what you meant by this, @farmers wife ? I'm not sure I follow?
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett

farmers wife

  • Joined Jul 2009
  • SE Wales
Re: Sponging sheep
« Reply #20 on: May 23, 2017, 12:46:54 pm »
I'm confusing myself here and its come out all rubbish. First lambing has issues and more prone to assisted births which means staying up all night if indoors.  While 2nd onwards if good then should be ok.  If you tightly pack in lambing then you need to be on guard a lot more than with spaced out birthing. If you have 5 giving birth on one night then you have terrible chances of mixed and confusion of who is whose in the morning. (this causes a nightmare as I know) This would depend on the numbers of stock you have of course.  I know what I mean but not sure if Im coming across right in it.


I dont know whether fertility is as good with quick catching with older ewes compared with yearlings - thats the bit Im not sure about.  If older ewes take longer????

Foobar

  • Joined Mar 2012
  • South Wales
Re: Sponging sheep
« Reply #21 on: May 23, 2017, 01:54:14 pm »
First lambing has issues and more prone to assisted births which means staying up all night if indoors.
Nah you just need to breed them as ewe lambs :)
I've sponged all ages, no difference really, the ewe lambs might take a little longer to accept the ram that's all (like a few hours). Or else if they don't take you know they will come back exactly 17 days later, so you still know when they will lamb.

crobertson

  • Joined Sep 2015
Re: Sponging sheep
« Reply #22 on: May 26, 2017, 09:10:04 pm »
Just thought I would share our experience. It was my first time lambing our first 6 ewes this year and we sponged due to time constraints with work etc. They were sponged 26th-27th November and lambed 22nd-28th March. The first 4 all had twins within 2 days of eachother and the final two waited a few days and both had singles. All were perfect and good sizes (see pic for one just been born) and we've not had to do anything, not even one top up feed, they have been fab mums (must be beginners luck) !

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: Sponging sheep
« Reply #23 on: November 15, 2019, 06:59:06 pm »
I know this is an old thread, but I wanted to update it with our experience from this year:


Firstly I didn't use an applicator this year, as I've always found it a bit of a faff. Instead, I just wore surgical gloves and poked the sponges up as far as my index finger would reach. Despite the nagging feeling that this was a little more intimate than I was really comfortable with when it comes to sheep, it was considerably quicker, worked absolutely fine and I think was less likely to hurt the sheep. I'll definitely be doing it that way from now on.


Regarding timings, this is the official advice from the leaflet:

"Oestrus usually occurs 36 to 72 hours after sponge withdrawal, but occasionally may be evident as early as 24 hours after removal. However, rams must not be introduced earlier than 48 hours following sponge removal. Otherwise they will repeatedly serve the same ewes, depleting their semen reserves prior to the main group coming into season."


However, following advice from a farmer friend, we introduced the tup earlier this year and watched to see what happened. This is for a flock of twelve ewes running with a mature and experienced tup:


Four stood for him and were served at 30 hours. I then separated them and went to bed.
Five more were served at 37 hours.
We then raddled the tup and left them to it. The remaining three were served at 42, 44 and 48 hours respectively. He also didn't re-cover any of the ones served at 30 hours, which suggests he either knew he'd already been there, or they were already off heat(?).


What I don't know is what would have happened if we'd left it until 48 hours to introduce him. Would the early girls still have been interested, or would we have missed them? Any thoughts folks?
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Sponging sheep
« Reply #24 on: November 15, 2019, 07:36:41 pm »
I’ve no experience to share on your question, but I just felt moved to comment that when I were a lass, one was either a Tampax or a Lil-lets girl.  Former had cardboard applicator, latter you used your finger.  I only tried Tampax once, when I was desperate, and I scratched myself with the cardboard.  :o.  So I think your more intimate approach may well suit your girls better ;)  :D
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

silkwoodzwartbles

  • Joined Apr 2016
Re: Sponging sheep
« Reply #25 on: November 15, 2019, 08:35:39 pm »
We sponged last year and accidentally introduced the tups too early (36 hours after sponge removal). 2 ewes were barren at scanning and many were served again on the second and third cycle suggesting they weren't receptive at first tupping, although in heat enough for the tups to be interested.

We didn't repeat the sponging this year and at scanning one of my two barren ewes from last year was barren again so she's on her final chance now but if she doesn't lamb in April she'll be away as cull.  Everything else was served over two cycles.

I'll probably sponge again next year but follow the instructions to the letter and only for ewes that have lambed before.

Black Sheep

  • Joined Sep 2015
  • Briercliffe
    • Monk Hall Farm
Re: Sponging sheep
« Reply #26 on: November 16, 2019, 10:24:21 am »
We sponged last year and again this year.

Last year we were putting 13 to the tup, so as we had one that refused to be penned only 12 were sponged. We removed 4 each day for three days, putting the whole lot in with the tup on the third morning, knowing that the first four would be at the recommended 48 hours and ready for him and the others would come into that window over the next two days.

One sponge had fallen out when we came to removal - the first one we put in. This was while we were getting used to the process and it obviously wasn't in deep enough to stay put. That is where I think the applicator helps - I marked "depth" on it with a marker pen to give me a guide. Of the 13 all but one were tupped first cycle.

This year we are tupping 18 with the same tup. I've just taken 6 sponges out this morning and will do another 4 per day through until Tuesday. On Monday I'll be putting 6+4 in with him and on Tuesday the other 4+4. We'll see how that turns out in April :-)

Me

  • Joined Feb 2014
  • Wild West
Re: Sponging sheep
« Reply #27 on: November 16, 2019, 01:40:44 pm »
36 hours is fine. The tups really can use all their semen on the first ewe to cycle which is a problem if you are running at 11 to one or higher and he has another ten to get in lamb straight away.

CIDRs are a much better design than sponges with a much better idiot proof applicator. I would never go back to sponges.

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Sponging sheep
« Reply #28 on: November 16, 2019, 06:51:07 pm »
I have used Cidrs on my goats this year for the first time, both for lap AI and for natural service, where I needed them in season at a specific time. I was warned that they will come into season much earlier than the usual 48 hours after removal (as you get with sponges), and yes for the AI some of them were in season 24 hours later and all were in by 40 hours (when the AI was done). But not all come in by 30 hours, and I have had some in only about 50 hours later... this is a bit more of a problem when you have to go any mate your girl on a weekend by visiting the billy at another farm to comply with their standstill...
The other issue is that my vets won't break up a pack of Cidr's (as they need to be kept tightly closed as otherwise prone to dry out) but will sell individual sponges.

Sponges are easy to insert without an applicator, but CIDR's need one - another 12 quid to pay...
Only problem I have had with sponges is that at removal the string breaks... when it is a dash down to the vets (all but 4 miles) to get them to remove it using forceps... fun and games...
I have stopped sponging the sheep for now, whereas I liked the idea of one week's lambing, it led to too many mis-motherings, as my ewes seem to have only a few chosen spots in the field where they all like to lamb and they all lamb just before 5am...

Me

  • Joined Feb 2014
  • Wild West
Re: Sponging sheep
« Reply #29 on: November 16, 2019, 10:42:28 pm »
I'd have said £12 for a CIDR applicator is cheap vs an emergency trip to the vets, I have removed 100s of sponges lost inside ewes for people but never a cidr (yet)

 

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