Regular weighing and handling can help maximise lambs' sale value
As I start to write this article, I can hear the rain falling gently on the roof of the house. I'm not sorry, as ground has really dried out in this part of the country over the past week or two.
Grass growth has slowed and some parts of the fields are starting to burn. Most of this was caused by a combination of the high temperatures and wind. A good drop of rain now will push on growth again so we can build up grass for the back end of the year.
We will spread the entire farm over the next few weeks with 1.5 bags of pasture swart. This will be the last fertilisation round of 2016. We also have a small amount of cattle slurry to spread, which will go out on to fields that are grazed out by the dry ewes. We have sown fodder rape after winter barley (August 2) which is just starting to appear over ground.
The rain will be a benefit to this crop as well. Fodder rape crop can produce a large bulk of feed in a short space of time. It can be sown from May to September in the southern part of the country.
Seeding rates depends on the method of sowing, either broadcast where you may need to use up to 4.5kg/ac, or if using a direct drill for sowing, you can cut seed rates back to less than 3kgs/ac.
The fertiliser required is generally three bags of 18.6.12 per acre. We usually spray to kill off volunteer barley which can pose a problem where the rows of straw fall from the combine.
We will use this crop to finish lambs in November and December. When feeding, we allow the lambs access to a round bale of silage as a roughage source. A dose containing high iodine is also a help.
We hope to sow another field after spring barley in the coming week. The real bonus for me from these crops comes when lambs are dosed for worms and go on to clean ground.