Flocks will benefit as vaccination costs come down

OPEN WIDE: Thomas McCarthy, Borris, Co Carlow dosing his hoggets with Parafend
OPEN WIDE: Thomas McCarthy, Borris, Co Carlow dosing his hoggets with Parafend
John Large

John Large

All hay and silage has been saved after what can only be described as a great two weeks of weather. Only paddocks that go too strong for grazing will be bailed as silage from now on.

All the silage bales have been transported home and are stacked by the sheds. We find this more efficient than leaving bales on the out-farm which then have to be moved home for feeding during winter.

Some of the hay has been put in the shed but most is still outside in the fields. They are all 4x4 round, which helps reduce the labour requirement getting them back to the shed.

We usually have one tractor loading in the field, the JCB loader at the shed and another tractor ferrying the trailers from the field to the shed.

This means with three people we can move a lot of bales in a few days. The most important thing after making good hay is to have proper storage facilities.

I must admit, though, that I'm curious as to whether this new bailer from McHale that uses plastic instead of net wrap to keep the bale together, will allow up to store outside for a period instead.

We have no lambs weaned yet but all are due to be weighed next week when they will be weaned at the same time. They were all dosed for stomach worms three weeks ago.

After weaning any fit for sale will go direct to the factory off their mothers. The ewe lambs will be picked off and put on grass that has been topped and fertilised after its last grazing by the ewes and lambs.

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The best lambs that are near fit for slaughter will be put on last year's reseeded fields because these will have the highest feed values with the high levels of clover. They will then be moved onto the typhon and new grass.

The field we reseeded after ploughing has grown well considering the dry weather. The field we direct-seeded is quite poor, with the typhon very scarce and the plants very small.

A few showers of rain over the last few days might be exactly what it needed to get going.

All the light lambs will be grouped together, given a mineral dose called Sheep Boost, their second shot of Heptavac P, and then the best grass available.

With all the hay and silage fields cut three weeks earlier than last year we will have more ground available for lambs to graze. It shows what a big bonus it is when forage can be saved early in the year.

The forage is of higher quality, which should be a help to keep fed costs down next winter. These fields will get the last of the watered-down cattle slurry at a rate of 2000 gallons per acre.

The extra winter feed will also allow us to spray off two more fields for reseeding when the weather becomes more favourable. All the lambs have been treated to prevent fly strike with most getting Clik.

The bigger ones got Veterazin to make sure withdrawal periods do not interfere with sales of lambs. The ewes got 30ml of Clik which should see them safe until shearing in late July. The current market quote of €1.20/kg for wool will not leave much for me after paying the shearers. The ewes were all dagged before the Clik was applied and have stayed clean.

The dry hoggets were shorn in late May and have not got any fly strike treatment yet. They will be gathered this week to get their vaccination against enzootic abortion.

The good news is the price of the vaccine has come down from over €4 per ewe last year to less than €2.50 this year.

We find one injection covers the ewe for her breeding life so if you have the problem it is really sensible to vaccinate.

We have been vaccinating all our replacements for the last 10 years and find it very effective.

The hoggets will also get Clik, have their feet checked, and then will be left to soak in the foot bath.

John Large is a Tipperary sheep farmer

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