Sheep: GLAS payments must increase if the scheme is to fulfil its potential
Generally I like to get the sheep housed by December 15 at the very latest.
This year, unlike other years, I have a field of fodder rape for my ewe lambs. The crop hasn't performed as well as I would have liked. Lime deficiency, soil compaction and a late sowing date left it struggling. While it's not perfect however I will get to winter my ewe lambs on it and it's a valuable lesson learned.
Getting more familiar with the management of winter fodder crops is something I need to do as it is a cheaper way to winter large amounts of stock.
While the fodder rape is nothing to be proud of, I got my test results back from my first and second cut silage. The first cut came in at 76.6 DMD, 0.87 UFL and 13.1pc protein. Nothing to be ashamed of there. The second cut wasn't too far off it either with 69.4 DMD, UFL 0.78 and 12.1pc protein. One kilo of my silage is nearly as good as feeding one kilo of barley to my stock.
With silage like that there a good chance that I will have to feed very little meal to my ewes in the run up to lambing.
I've been working at improving my silage quality over the last number of years. Dr Tim Keady, from Teagasc Athenry, has been emphasising the importance of silage cutting date, wilting and grassland management at every opportunity.
He's right. The importance of quality silage making cannot be understated and a little bit of attention to detail at the time of harvesting can reap huge benefits for the farm. I just hope that next year I can be as consistent.
As soon as the ewes are housed I will hold off fluke dosing them for roughly two weeks. This allows for the dose to work on any young and immature fluke and ultimately saves me having to do them twice. I might just wait until scanning is over and cull the empty ewes before dosing. The withdrawal dates on fluke dose is very long.