Ensuring lambs get choice grass is a weighty issue
At the end of last month, we spread fertiliser for silage and hay. Two and a half bags of Cut Sward per acre were used. The silage will be made in bales mostly used for cows and calves.
As I share machinery with my brother, we cut and spread out the grass for 24 hours to get a good wilt. Then we bale and just have to hire in someone to wrap the bales. The big advantage of our own machinery is we can do the work when the weather is right.
This window of weather is usually short, so good machinery well maintained and ready to go is all important. The down sides are the repayments and the price of diesel. As plastic has increased in price, every effort will be made to save most of the grass as hay.
We have 42 acres closed up now and will pick up a few more paddocks later in the year. We also have fodder left since last year.
The two fields to be reseeded have been prepared with drains cleaned up, ditches cut and fences repaired. We also moved water troughs so these fields can be grazed in two halves. All we need now is a dry day so they can be sprayed off with Round-Up. We plan to plough one field as it is rough with a lot of tracks to be levelled. The other field will be direct seeded.
We dosed all the lambs the week beginning April 25. A few lambs were getting dirty and lot of lambs were starting to go lame for scald. So we put them all into the foot bath of zinc sulphate. Both jobs worked well with no lambs showing any signs of scouring now two weeks later and very few lame lambs.
All the lambs were weighed on May 5. The singles weighed 23.16kg, twins weighed 20.76kg and triplets weighed 19.44kg.
The heaviest single lamb weighed 32kg with the lightest triplet weighing 9.5kg. Our average daily gain was 336g for singles, 312g for twins and 301g for triplets. We are happy with this. The challenge now is to keep them going at 300g per day until weaning. If we can achieve this gain our weaning weight should be somewhere around 33kg. To achieve this, the lambs will need good grass.
So from now on the lambs will be allowed to creep-graze the choice grass ahead of the ewes, while the ewes themselves will be forced to graze tight.
We will also mow out any paddocks with grass on them after the ewes.
On the out-farm we use the 100 dry sheep to do the topping - not after every grazing but they get any fields the ewes and lambs do not graze out tight. We will also divide up fields so that no block takes longer than four days to graze.
The lambs will be dosed again around mid-May using Cydectin. This will see them through until July, when we will take dung samples and dose according to the results.
Now I have to dag any dirty ewes and get them ready for an application of Clik which will keep them maggot free until they have their wool removed in early August. We should get eight weeks cover from Clik so the longer we can hold off applying it the better. The lambs will be done in mid-May with any heavy singles receiving Vetrazin.
The reason for this is a shorter withdrawal period, which surprisingly has been extended from five days to 25 days.
John Large is a sheep farmer at Gortnahoe, Thurles, Co Tipperary
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