As most of the country continues to bask in glorious dry, hot weather, farmers need to be aware of the additional pressure this puts livestock under, and the steps required to reduce the risk of heat stress.

During such weather, AHDB says sheep farmers should consider weaning lambs earlier than normal to allow dry ewes and weaned lambs to be managed separately. Lambs can then be sold as stores if grazing ground is restricted, finished intensively or moved to better grazing.

Once weaned, ewes can be split into groups to meet target for body condition score for the following tupping.

When sward heights are below 4cm, supplementary forage or concentrates will be needed to maintain condition

and performance. The aim should be to introduce additional feed before extreme feed shortages to extend the

forage and always intro slowly to reduce the risk of acidosis.

Before deciding whether to finish lambs intensively, farmers should evaluate all available feed stocks, stock to

feed and cost of gain. Be aware that selling some lambs as stores provides more grazing for other stock.

It also should be noted that there may be health problems for stock when the grass returns, as a surge can increase the risk of grass staggers (hypomagnesaemia). Worm control will become very important.

Top tips for managing sheep in hot weather

* Provide grazing stock with access to fields that have sufficient shade in the form of hedges or trees and

be alert for fly problems. If necessary consider housing animals

* Move, gather, handle or transport animals in the cooler conditions of the early morning or late evening

wherever possible

* Give special attention to lambs because they are markedly more susceptible to heat stress than adult


* Consider providing extra forage during the cooler times to help compensate for reduced feeding activity in

the heat

* Make sure all sheep have access to a good supply of clean drinking water

* If housing, ensure buildings are adequately ventilated and increase space allowances by reducing

stocking densities if possible, should be 1m2 of floor space per ewe and 0.6-0.7m2 per lamb (25-35kg)

* Maintain particularly good drainage and ventilation in areas of accommodation prone to wetting to avoid

the additional heat stress caused by high humidity.