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Sunday 11 December 2016

Ideal weather gives us good quality grass for weaned lambs

Sheep

John Large

Published 29/06/2016 | 02:30

We are shearing the ewes this week and will wean all lambs next week after we sell off the first draft of lambs.
We are shearing the ewes this week and will wean all lambs next week after we sell off the first draft of lambs.

With nearly all the silage made in very good conditions, next winter's fodder should be of very good quality.

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When weather is good it takes a lot of the stress out of the job - it's just a matter of mowing down dry grass, giving it a run of the tedder the next day and you are ready for baling.

All that is left to do then is to cart all the bales home which is the most time consuming part of round bale silage.

You have to be careful at loading and unloading not to damage the plastic while also trying to get the bales in quickly before the crows and gulls get their beaks into them.

This year, with ground conditions so good at the time of baling there was no problem with trailers getting bogged down or having to leave fields with just a half load.

All these things are a great help at getting the job done smoothly, but most are governed by weather which we have no control over, which is just as well.

All we need now is a good week to make some hay. The grass on these fields is getting heavy and the sooner they are cut the better.

We would rather have fewer bales of good quality hay per acre in late June than ten bales of poor quality stuff a month later.

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All ground that has been cut received one bag of fertiliser last week.

We used Pasture Sward, 27 units of nitrogen with some phosphorus and potash. This pushed on growth which was also helped by the rain. We have got good quality grass for lambs after weaning.

We are shearing the ewes this week and will wean all lambs next week after we sell off the first draft of lambs.

The lambs have been dosed for worms two weeks ago and also received a mineral dose. We also have to pick out next years replacement ewe-lambs which will be shorn in late August.

The remainder of the lambs will be divided into three groups based on their weight. The lightest group will get a small amount of meal to keep them growing.

Hopefully the other two groups can be finished off on grass only. This year we have no Typhon to finish lambs off so the pressure is on to keep good quality grass in front of lambs for the next few months.

We will not force lambs to eat down the grass below 5 to 6cm.

We will use the dry ewes to clean out the lower quality grass after the lambs have eaten the best of it.

We are weaning a bit earlier this year mainly due to the good growth.

More of our main grazing areas have been cut for silage and the re-growth is too good a quality to feed to the ewes and will be more beneficial to the lambs. After shearing and weaning the ewes will be picked through and culls identified, with the best ones sold off and the others put onto good grass, we often run these with the ewe-lambs just to cut down on the number of grazing groups we have on the farm.

Some culls are already identified since lambing time, the rest will be made up of ewes that got mastitis during lactation, which this year is a high number, older ewes with long or lost teeth, any very thin ewes and persistent lame ewes. We generally need 25pc replacements just to keep numbers static.

The remaining ewes will be divided into two groups based on their condition score and treated accordingly with the lighter ones under condition score three getting preferential treatment so they improve before mating.

The others will follow the lambs, cleaning up what grass they have left.

John Large is a sheep farmer from Co Tipperary

Indo Farming



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