Grass growth for the past month has been exceptional so we still have plenty in front of the ewes and lambs. We hope to move the lambs to re-seeded, rented grazing, which is available to us from November until next March.
We are still not feeding meals and we feel that our lambs are thriving well.
We think the cobalt boluses have worked well as the lambs appear to have a healthy colour about them -- but we haven't monitored any weight gains to verify this.
For the past few weeks we have been flushing the mid-season (lowland ewes) and the rams were turned out with these on October 22.
The mountain ewes are still on the mountain as there is plenty of grazing left as a result of the favourable growing condition this year. We intend to bring these down during the first week of next month and, all going well, we will turn out the rams with these on November 5.
We have completed our ram purchases for this year by buying four hogget Scottish Blackface rams at the Kerry Blackface Breeders' annual show and sale on September 25 in Milltown Mart. The trade for these rams was exceptionally brisk this year and the average cost was €400/hd.
It is a requirement of the Ring of Kerry Quality Lamb Group that all the sires of next year's lambs are DNA tested. This is to provide the group with that extra traceability and it also prevents lambs from outside of the group being passed off as Ring of Kerry Quality Lambs.
To this end, we have had the samples taken from all our rams at this stage -- just in case one of them meets his maker during the mating period.
We managed to shear all the lambs that came off the hill on September 20. My neighbour, Jimmy Healy, completed the job and managed to keep the shears out a little so that the lambs were not shorn too bare. We sold some of the smaller ewe lambs in the mart as the current prices were very tempting. They averaged just over €2/kg, which is a big lift when compared to last year.
For the last two years we have been mating our lowland replacement ewe lambs. This has given us extra lambs to sell and we are very pleased with the system.
We will turn out a Charmoise ram with the ewe lambs on November 5.
All ewe lambs being mated will be in excess of 45kg. They are mostly Belclare cross and we generally achieve a litter size of 1.5 lambs scanned per ewe lamb joined.
Lamb sales are continuing at a steady pace.
We are drafting lambs at a live weight of 48kg and they are killing out around 22-23kg carcass.
We have around 100 lowland lambs plus around 90 hill lambs left to sell.
We will be holding some of these over into the New Year to ensure supply for the lamb group.
As the price per kg we receive is fixed we are in no rush to finish these and will grow them on the reseeded grass pastures.
Our farming life has changed dramatically over the past 12 months. It has become much more business-orientated since the inception of the Ring of Kerry Quality Lamb Group, and my role as chairman and delivery/marketing man.
Timmy Fleming is a sheep farmer who farms at Coolies, Muckross, Killarney, Co Kerry