Low repeat rates essential for compact lambing
The majority of the Blackface ewes are covered at this stage to both the Lanark ram and the Bluefaced Leicester rams. All of the Mule ewes have been covered by the Beltex ram and we have had only one repeat. I hope this trend continues with the rest of the flock.
I find it much easier to manage ewes lambing in spring when the lambing is condensed and compact. The ewes that come into oestrus again after being served spread out the lambing period, making it more difficult to manage lambs in different groups.
I use raddle as an aid to reduce the spread of lambing and if I see an unusual number of repeats I take action by changing rams. Because of this, it is important to have sufficient ram cover on the farm for the entire mating season.
This week I sold 26 lambs through the South Mayo Lamb Producer Group. At this stage I don't know how they performed, but I imagine they will be on par with the last batch. I expect them to reach carcass weights of 20-21kg and grade mostly R3, with perhaps some U3s.
The remainder of the lambs on the farm will be housed this week and fed on a high concentrate diet. With little or no growth and scarce grass supply, it is unlikely that pasture will be able to provide enough nutrient requirements for the lambs to put on sufficient flesh for slaughter. The lambs are currently receiving concentrates and the same ration will be fed to them indoors.
Last week I checked all the water bowls to ensure they were clean and in good working order as a good supply of water is important for sheep indoors and on high concentrate diets. The amount of creep in the lambs' diet will be increased gradually over a week and then the lambs will be fed ad libitum until they reach target slaughter weight of about 45-47kg.
As the weather gets colder and more harsh, lambs won't have to worry about finding shelter. I expect that they should thrive just as well, if not better, inside. The fields can also be closed off to ensure that there is enough regrowth of grass at lambing time.
The pedigree Bluefaced Leicester ewes that were artificially inseminated have now completed two full cycles, with only six of the 25 repeating. Three of these were served with frozen semen and the success rate is about what is to be expected with frozen semen in sheep. The ewes that were inseminated with fresh semen had an 87pc success rate, which is quite good. Hopefully no further repeats will occur and all these ewes will lamb down good healthy lambs.