Last lamb crop of year slaughtered
The last of the 2013 lamb crop were slaughtered yesterday. These lambs have grazed forage rape for the last five to six weeks. While I don't have the kill out performance of this group, the previous 39 lambs slaughtered from the forage rape killed out at 48pc, returning €101/hd.
The lamb sales pattern this year has fallen behind target as a result of the dry weather we encountered in July when our lambs were grazing the hill in Lyons.
Rams have been removed from the ewes and ewe lambs and we will scan the ewes on December 30.
There is a history of dog attacks at Lyons over the Christmas period in the past so we will house the ewes to minimise this risk.
When the ewes are turned back out they will graze a north-facing area of the hill. This has been conserved for this particular job.
With all lambs sold and the ewes more or less minding themselves at the moment, it gives us an opportunity to look at the performance of the flock. When discussing performance we need to consider both the physical and the financial performance of the flock. Physical performance indicators include litter size and conception rate, while on the financial side you can look at family farm income and grass margin per hectare.
However, the most important question is does your sheep enterprise put money in your pocket at the end of the year? The initial figures from the Teagasc National Farm Survey 2012 are available. It makes for stark reading.
In 2012, family farm income was back by 11pc in the sheep sector, and recent Teagasc data indicate a further fall in income for 2013. Even more concerning is the fact that 118pc of income in 2012 came from the Single Farm Payment (SFP). This means the SFP is subsidising the farming enterprise, making sheep farming an expensive hobby for many.