This is a broad leaved dock. Plant family - Polygonaceae. Why are docks such a problem? • They can germinate through the year • Germinate from both seed and roots. • Each plant can produce 60,000 seeds a year • Seeds can be viable in the ground for up to 80 years.

Animal Health and Diseases:

Zoonoses: An animal disease that can transmit to humans.

Notifiable disease: A disease of international importance, highly contagious with a risk to human health. Must be reported to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Animals must be quarantined and slaughtered.

Examples of Notifiable diseases: Swine fever, rabies, brucellosis, foos and mouth disease, T.B., B.V.D., B.S.E.

Bacterial diseases: 

E-coli - leads to bacterial scour. Symptoms: dehydration, diarrhoea, weight loss

Leptospirosis: Symptoms: low conception rates, abortion, stilborn

Mastitis: Symptoms: Swollen udder, fever, producing clotted milk.

Navel ill: Symptoms: swollen navel, stiffness

Signs of good health in a farm animal:



Clear bright eyes

Nose and mouth clear of mucus

No scour

Walking normally

Production diseases:

1. Milk fever - Caused by a deficiency in calcium, animal appears weak. Ensure to provide lick buckets to preven this deficiency.

2. Grass tetany - Caused by a deficiency of magnesium, animal may be very weak and staggering. Ensure to provide lick buckets to preven this deficiency.

3. Bloat - Gas in rumen produced by bacteria causes swelling of the abdomen. May be relieved by puncturing.

4. Twin lamb disease -  Inadequate feeding of the ewe particularly if she is carrying multipkes. Ensure to scan ewes to determine how many lambs they are carrying and feed accordingly i.e. if carrying three feed more than a ewe carrying two.


These are blackface mountain sheep. These sheep can be identified by their horns, small carcass and black face and legs. Some common definitions in sheep production asked in exams:

1. Polyoestrous: Having several oestrous cycles per year.

2. Flushing: Placing the ewe on a low plane of nutrition and then suddenly on a higher plane of nutrition prior to mating to increase the chances of conception.

3. Sponging: A method of synchronised breeding by using a sponge soaked in progesterone. 

4. Steaming up: Increasing concentrates in last six weeks of pregnancy asmost foetal growth occurs at this time.

5. Raddling harness: Used to detwct mating behaviour in rams. This helps to perdict lambing date. A harness is placed on the ram with a specific colour. If this colour dye is seen on a ewe you know they have mated. The colour is changed every 17 days in line with the length of oestrous cycles.

These are only a minor section of definitions in the sheep production section. For instance, do you know there is a link between the decrease in day length and the stimulation of a ewe coming into oestrous. In Autumn and Winter the levels of light are declining and day length is becoming shorter. This stimulates the pituitary gland in the brain to produce F.S.H. (Follicle Stimulating Hormone). This is turn stimulates the ovaries to produce oestrogen and for the ewe to enter an oestrous cycle.

Do you know the difference between Dry Matter and Dry Matter Digestibility? If not you should as they come up regularly on the paper. 

Dry Matter: This is the percentage of a feed that is not made out of water i.e. only energy and nutrients.

Dry Matter Digestibility: The percentage of the dry matter that an animal can actually digest and use it for energy.

Prior to a grass producing its flower D.M.D. can be as high as 80%. However once the grass produces its flower this drops to 50% with an addition drop of 0.5% per day.

How can you maximise D.M.D.?

Use rotational grazing systems that give the grass a chance to recover.

Topping to encourage tillering.

Use a late flowering variety of grass to postpone the flowering date.

Use Perennial Ryegrass as it tends to have a high D.M.D. late in the season.


Heat Detection Aids

With the calving season over, attention is now turning to getting female animals ready to produce their next line of progeny. There are many succesful options to ensure accurate heat detection. One shown in the photograph is tail painting.  The idea is to paint the top of the cow's tail. Once she is mounted this paint will rub off. When a cow stands still and allows another animal to mount her it is a sure sign of oestrus. There are also new more technological methods which may be used. An example of this is the FlashMate Heat Detector. For a farm to be profitable a short calving interval is necessary. This can be achieved through reproductive efficiency. For more information on heat detection aids read the following article:

*Not sure of the underlined terms? These come up again and again on exam papers. Definitions can be found in text books as well as the key terms booklet by the Farmers Journal. Keep an eye out for future blog posts on these topics.

This is a leather jacket. The larvae stage of the crane fly. The leather jacket is a pest of cereal crops, particularly spring barley. They eat the roots and emerging shoots. The crane fly is known more commonly as the daddy long legs.

Agri Aware are hosting open farm days around the country this bank holiday Monday. Click on the link for more information. This is a free event with lots of activities. A great opportunity for Ag Science students to gain knowledge for upcoming exams. Looks like a great day with good weather promised too!

The Furze plant also known as gorse should be in flower this time of year. A member of the plant family Leguminosae. This native shrub gives off a characteristic perfume similar to that of coconut. The leaves over the years have developed into spikes. This allows the plant to survive winter's harsh conditions at high altitudes.