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Saturday 10 December 2016

Sheep: Reseeded ground is already paying dividends

Tom Staunton

Published 25/05/2016 | 02:30

Ann Marie and Pat Nealan from Killala, Co Mayo enjoying the sunshine at the Connacht Spring Show in Ballinrobe. Photo: Trish Forde.
Ann Marie and Pat Nealan from Killala, Co Mayo enjoying the sunshine at the Connacht Spring Show in Ballinrobe. Photo: Trish Forde.

Last year I reseeded some old pasture that wasn't productive, it was slow to grow in spring and produced very little throughout the year.

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The difference this spring between the reseeded ground and old swards was like chalk and cheese. Despite poor growth this spring, the reseeded ground outperformed older swards easily.

I have decided to continue reseeding this year to help improve grass growth on the farm. Spring is when I'm mostly under pressure for grass and having newly reseeded ground should help this and also help the quality of grass the sheep are grazing.

The field has been sprayed off and will be power harrowed. It should be finished with a new sward established to coincide with weaning. I will then graze it with the newly weaned lambs.

All lambs have received their first worm drench of the season as the risk of nematodirus was high. All ewe lambs on the farm that will go on for sale and/or breeding have been started on the Heptavac P programme.

Clostridial diseases can pose a massive threat to many sheep, beef and dairy farmers throughout the country.

Lambs received the first shot of the vaccine last week and will get the booster shot within four to six weeks.

This is part of an initiative by the Mayo Mule and Greyface group which has made it compulsory for all members to adopt this programme. I think it is a very positive step for the group and will give customers some peace of mind when buying their Mule and Greyface lambs and hoggets.

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The sheep show season kicked off last week with events in Balmoral and our local Connacht Spring show at Ballinrobe Racecourse. It marks the beginning of a busy time of showing and promoting our sheep both locally and nationally.

The National Livestock show in Tullamore and the All-Ireland sheep shearing in Castlepollard will be the two main events that the groups I'm involved with will attend.

We showed some of our Blackface mountain (Lanark type) ewes and lambs and also a few Mule lambs at the Connacht Spring show. The weather was perfect for the show and this saw a great crowd turn up to an ideal venue for the event.

Agricultural shows are an important social event for many in rural areas and for the farming community in general. Many farmers meet up and compare and contrast stock and catch up on lambing/calving events that took place in the spring.

It's a pity then that many shows are under threat throughout the country.

It was encouraging to see our new Minister for Agriculture announce a new sheep scheme that could deliver €10/ewe to sheep farmers. A payment would help with the burden of higher feed bills this spring.

The upcoming weeks will be busy with sheds to be cleaned out, treating lambs against blowfly, shearing and reseeding. I haven't decided what I will treat the lambs with this year against blowfly.

I'll shop around and see what the best product is for length of cover it gives and also look at the withdrawal dates.

Shearing will begin with the Lanark type Blackface hoggets and I will continue through the rest of the flock.

Tom Staunton farms in Tourmakeady, Co Mayo

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