Is later lambing the way forward?
There was a slow start to the lambing on Michael Duffy's farm in Donegal
Published 13/04/2016 | 02:30
The rams were joined with the flock on October 25 and lambing began on March 18, but one week later there were only 30 ewes lambed instead of the expected 100 on Michael Duffy's farm at Kerrykeel, around 35km north of Letterkenny.
"From March 23-29 the lambing rate picked up to about 15-20 per day, but as of April 5 there are only 170 ewes and 17 hoggets lambed or about 53pc," said Michael.
"The weather was dry since St Patrick's Day until last weekend there was no significant grass growth so it is all for the better that lambing was not as compact as in 2014.
"This time last year I had 400 ewes lambed, with low enough body condition, struggling for milk and no grass. At present I have 85 ewes out, all lambing with adequate body condition, loads of milk and 'enough' grass.
"The weather has not been favourable for grass growth but it has been suitable for turning out ewes and lambs after lambing.
"Another positive this year is that ewes are lambing down with good milk supply which reduces the workload and leaves less pet lambs to be attended to," said Michael.
Lambing losses have been about normal and while there were 12 lambs still-born between scanning and the start of lambing, Michael did not consider it too unusual.
The majority of the flock was vaccinated against Toxoplasma and Enzootic abortion so these still births could be due to genetic, handling, head butts or other bacterial causes of abortion. Losses at or post lambing are no more than 10pc but I will have a more accurate figure in the next report.