I usually confine them to a smaller field for a few days until they settle. The wether lambs were moved onto the newly reseeded ground which has good covering of leafy grass and rape.
These lambs are being let into the rape during the day and are taken out in the evening.
Rape is a type of brassica and if it is not grazed and managed correctly especially in the first few weeks this can have a number of consequences as I have experienced before. This is why I am adjusting them to the new forage slowly.
As with any change of diet it takes time for an animal to adjust to it. Ruminal acidosis is an example of a nutritional disorder which can occur at diet change.
Minerals and vitamins
I dosed all the sheep that I let into the rape with a ruminant product which aids rumen adaption to diet changes and also provides them with essential minerals and vitamins.
Past experiences of feeding rape to lambs has made me more aware of some side effects including goitre which occurs due to chemicals in the crop which prevents the uptake of iodine by the thyroid gland and this causes an enlarged thyroid gland and swelling of the throat.
Rape scald is another effect which I have experienced before where compounds within the rape cause the skin to become quite sensitive to sunlight.
This causes the head and ears to blister and swell which effects thrive. I am aware of these through trial and error and I think I can make efficient use of the crop this time.
The lambs will remain on the rape and grass mix until slaughter, as will the ewes which I am culling.
Weaning was an ideal time for pulling all the ewes that I have for culling together. These are ewes that either underperformed throughout the year, are spun out, mastitis cases or prolapse cases.
I have some more scope this year to cull as I have around 70 ewe hoggetts of my own to replace the outgoing ewes. It is the first year in quite a while that I have near enough replacements.
This is my plan for the future that I will continue on breeding my own replacements.
I find I have better control of the type of sheep I breed. I was finding it difficult to buy the type of replacements I wanted also.
The ewe hoggetts and the mature ewes will be prepared for mating over the next few months.
I start preparing the rams earlier by supplementing them with feed and also by giving them the once over to make sure they are physically functional for the forthcoming breeding season.
Tom Staunton farms in Tourmakeady, Co Mayo