Mild winter has extended our grazing season by five weeks
With the exception of 90 ewes on a late pregnancy feeding trial, all other ewes and ewe lambs at Lyons are still outdoors.
This is an unusual situation for us and it reflects the excellent growing conditions achieved in the last quarter of 2018, which supported growth of our Redstart and Forage rape crops — and an additional section of grazing that has become available this year.
In the last six to eight weeks of pregnancy, the nutrient requirements of the ewe almost double, to support the growing lamb in the womb, and the development of the udder and colostrum production.
Energy is the first concern and then protein is a very close second. In the last three weeks of pregnancy, the quality of protein also becomes a very important issue and this is where feed ingredients such as soya bean meal has a big role to play.
This year we are utilising the cheaper forage sources of energy and protein on the farm, and also saving significantly on straw bedding, by extending the grazing season for five weeks so far.
Grazing conditions have been favourable for the most part, since early December too, which has certainly helped the situation.
Our triplet and quad bearing ewes, of which there are more than 100 this year, are grazing the Redstart currently, and they have about a week left on this, at which stage they will be housed. Prior to turn-out to the Redstart, they received an iodine bolus, to counter any potential impacts of high levels of goitrogens which can be present in this crop.
Once ewes are housed, they will be offered high-quality grass/red clover silage which will be supplemented with concentrates to meet requirements.