Overfeeding pregnant ewes can be just as harmful as underfeeding them and you need to keep an eye on their condition.
My silage quality is really good this year so (77 DMD, 13pc protein, 0.8 UFL) there is little need to get too excited about pumping them with ration too soon. I have ordered a 17pc protein ration which is soya based and I intend to gradually introduce this to the doubles three weeks out from lambing building it up to approximately 0.5 kilos per head per day.
The triplet carrying ewes will get more and I'll build them up to 0.8-1 kilo per head per day. The singles are on silage only, I'll possibly introduce meal at a low rate to them (0.25 kilos per head) a week out from lambing.
I find that having a high soya based ration is a good feed ingredient if the ewes are to lamb down with lots of milk.
In the meantime I am shopping around for some good deals on fertiliser. As soon as the weather permits I hope to get out 1 bag of urea per acre around the farm.
Normally I spread fertiliser myself but there are deals available to get it bulk spread.
I am also keeping in mind that I need grass cover to be able to let out some dairy heifers that are here being contract reared early in the spring. The younger ones would do well to get out early, but again this is weather dependent. There's no pressure just yet.
I did my sheep census online this year, I am becoming less of a technophobe these days and I also ordered a new sheep register and dispatch document book.
I am a long way off selling any lambs but it can take up to three weeks for the department to issue a new dispatch book. It is not something that I would like to be looking for in a hurry.
I completed my boom sprayer course last week. I was not too happy about having to do it and I suppose I could have been accused of being a bit cynical about it.
Having done it now I'm glad. It is scary to think that we could handle such dangerous chemicals with little or no training. It was an eye opener and I really think that it is a worthwhile course to do.
The course that I did was organised by the FRS and cost €200 - it's done now, and it did me no harm.
John Fagan farms at Gartlandstown, Co Westmeath
Over the next month I will be getting the sheds ready for lambing continually foot bathing and bedding down the ewes. As the ewes get heavier in lamb I have to stop foot-bathing them as they can pick up hurts which can cause abortions.
As mentioned, I will decide on whether or not I need to fluke dose the flock when I get results back from the factory on the barren ewes.
Meanwhile I’ll be closely watching the weather to get the opportunity to spread fertiliser and slurry to encourage spring time grass growth.
I decided to take on a student this year from Gurteen Agricultural College. Darren Currid from Sligo, is starting with me on February 1.
Students can be great to have around and I enjoy sharing the experience of sheep farming with them.
You have to remember that they are on placement to learn so sharing experience without being too much of a slave driver is important. With 1,900 lambs due to be born I’ve no doubt that there will be lots to see and learn for Darren in spring 2016.