Sheep: Drafting lambs now is a better bet than waiting until July
The first of June has come and gone. For me this date is the day the weight of worrying about grass and the woes of spring are lifted from my shoulders.
The heifers, ewes and lambs are happily grazing in the fields. My priority at the moment is to keep the lambs constantly grazing leafy grass and moving them from field to field over the farm, gradually closing fields that are getting too far ahead for silage later in June.
You can expect lambs to put on anything from 250 to 300gm per day at this time of year. They need good quality grass to achieve this level of weight gain and I aim to starting drafting lambs towards the middle of June.
I conducted a faecal egg count on the lambs to sample the level of parasite burden which came back fairly clean. It's not something I would do normally but I got into it since being part of the STAP discussion group. Its really helpful and it's really easy to do.
The lambs have been doing well although I lost a few with pneumonia. Most years you find the odd dead one in the field and generally I would pass no remarks and put it down as one of those things.
But this year it has been a lot more prevalent than usual. It happened more so with the hoggets' lambs so there must be an issue there with immunity being passed from mother to lamb. I don't vaccinate for pneumonia and perhaps it is something that I should consider for ewe lambs in the future. I also think it was down to the changeable weather we had in April and early May which brought it on.
I'll be watching the lamb price over the next while. Last year the factories pulled the price a week earlier than usual. Going by price at this time of year I would try to draft lambs from 38 kilos upwards. As long as you are hitting the €100 mark, you are better off to take it now for a 38kg lamb than waiting till they are 45kg in mid or late July before you can get a similar price.
I weighed some of the pet lambs and they are doing well. I still have them inside on meal only. I feed them in troughs daily as well as that they have ad lib access to ration. They are doing a lot better than last year. Going by how they weighed I reckon the majority of them will be finished by the end of June.