Farm Ireland

Wednesday 13 December 2017

No end in sight to the summer chores

Lambs grazing
Lambs grazing

Tom Staunton

The ever growing list of summer chores continues.

However, I did manage to get time to attend Sheep2015 in Athenry, with our Bluefaced Leicester and Mule groups.

The event ran very smoothly and the groups that I am involved with had a superb turn out of sheep for the event, with huge interest from all over Ireland.

I would have liked to have had the time to enjoy more of the different technical villages showcasing the many interesting trials and studies that are currently being carried out around the country.

Shearing has been number one on a long list of chores that never seems to end. However, the end is in sight and I plan to finish it over the next few days. The ewes were in good shape at shearing and I was able to double-job by also checking out ewes for problems.

A few cases of mastitis were detected, where ewes were not showing any major signs of the disease.

They were marked for selling and will join a bunch for fattening in about a month's time.


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I am also weaning lambs. I started with the older and stronger lambs and will continue to wean some of the younger batches over the next week to 10 days.

Many of the Mule wether lambs are in good condition off the ewe and will be killed over the next month to weights of around 20-21kg average.

The ewe lambs have received their booster shot of Heptavac P and will continue on the farm until the breeding sales at the end of August/early September.

The Lanark type Blackface lambs are younger and will not be weaned for another week or so.

The pedigree Bluefaced Leicester lambs have been weaned two weeks at this stage and have settled well.

I am quite happy with the way these have thrived this year and was even more pleased to be rewarded with a few rosettes for them at Sheep2015.

The next major outing for these will be the Bluefaced Leicester ram sale in Ballinrobe in September.

The ewes that I wean are put onto a bare pasture to help them dry up. I am separating out ewes for selling by judging their health and the quality of their lambs at weaning.

Once dry these ewes will be fattened on the rape in the newly reseeded ground.

The main flock of ewes that will continue on the farm will begin to be prepared for the new season after six to seven weeks on a maintenance diet.

Fly strike

The current weather has brought fly strike to the fore. There were some isolated cases with maggots in lambs with dirty tails.

These were treated and I have both dipped and used a pour-on on different groups of lambs. The lambs that are near slaughter weight were treated with Ectofly; all breeding lambs for selling and retaining were dipped with Osmonds Gold Fleece.

On the grass management side, I have sprayed many of the fields that had docks, thistles and rushes. I have also topped off fields that have become too stemmy. The regrowth of fresh leafy grass will be welcomed by the weaned lambs over the coming weeks. The reseeded ground is coming along nicely. It struggled for a while in a dry period but has recovered since.

I applied a bacterial nitrogen fixer to the reseeded ground and will monitor this over the coming year. The product is new to Ireland but I've looked at reports from around the world and the results seem to be good.

Tom Staunton farms in Tourmakeady, Co Mayo.


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