John Large: Sharp lamb price drops undermine farmers' confidence
All forage for the winter is now safely in storage. The most important thing now is to keep grass growing and stock thriving.
The rain we got over the past fortnight resulted in grass growth rates increasing to over 50kg of dry matter per hectare (DM) per day. We are grazing the after-grass with the ewe-lambs before finishing it off with a mob of dry ewes.
Once the field is well grazed off, we will spread one-and-a-half bags of pasture sward or nitrogen with sulphur. The best of the factory lambs are on grass and are getting 0.3kg of meal. The main lot of lambs are on the reseeded fields with the typhon mix.
If you think grass grew well after the rain, our typhon went from plants of a miserable 4-6 inches to a field of luscious green plants which are now almost up to our knees. These lambs are getting no meal and we hope they should finish without any extra supplementation.
We will graze the field in three sections to give it a chance to recover before being grazed again. The grass has also come on well with a lot of clover which should provide good feeding for the lambs. These lambs all got a mineral dose and their second shot of HeptovacP before being put onto the new grass.
The mineral dose helps the lambs to cope with the lack of available minerals and vitamins in the fast-growing typhon. It is also important to have grass available for the lambs in case there is not enough grass in the reseed so we have access to a grass field provided as a run back from the typhon crop. The vaccine is given because a few years ago we lost some lambs to clostridia and the vaccine has cured that problem.
There are also about 120 small lambs weighing less than 30kg each. These are grazing in front of the thinner group of ewes and getting 0.3kg of meal. They are moved on when the ewes have the previous field well grazed down. My priorities with lambs now are to keep a check on worm burdens and treat when necessary, give vitamin B12 or some other product for cobalt deficiency and prevent lameness. This latter issue is the most important and can only be achieved by putting them through the foot bath every two weeks. With a new foot bath pen now on the out-farm this job is a lot easier. We can hold 50 lambs in the bath, leave them for 15 minutes and then let them out to the next pen for the solution to dry into their feet.