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Thursday 28 August 2014

Crucial lambing season made all the busier by wet weather

Published 11/03/2014 | 05:40

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For sheep farmer Sean Conway, these are busy times.

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The Lavagh man is preparing for the lambing season. And that means the need for spring grass.

But Sean is disappointed with the grass coverage at present compared to previous years.

The first paddocks for spring grazing were closed last October.

Forty acres have been closed since mid-November. Eighty acres in total have been closed since late December

But wet weather and poor ground conditions delayed the early spreading of nitrogen.

And this has restricted grass growth.

The remainder of the farm is used to outwinter the entire ewe flock. In fact, all sheep on the farm are outwintered.

Soil temperatures are currently at around 6c. As soon as ground conditions permit, Sean will spread 20 units or urea per acre on the earliest closed fields.

Fields that were closed late or bare fields with low grass will receive 2,000 gallons of slurry per acre, when ground conditions are suitable.

The current wet weather and poor ground conditions have made silage feeding difficult.

Last week, he decided to feed concentrates only with grass.

The ration feed to date consisted of 50% barley, 25% maize and 25% soya hulls. It costs €240 a tonne supplied by Kiernan's Mills.

Sean plans to buy heifers and bullocks at around 300-350kg next month. They will graze with the sheep over the summer months.

His plan: get maximum weight gain possible on the cattle.

He hopes to sell them off grass as stores in October with no concentrate feed.

Last year, he sold 95% of his lambs off grass, with no concentrate input.

Undoubtedly, the grass is the key.

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