Wintry weather could have a big impact on conception rates

Frosty weather: Sheep keep close to a frosty supply of hay at Drummany, Milltown, Co. Cavan. Photo: Lorraine Teevan
Frosty weather: Sheep keep close to a frosty supply of hay at Drummany, Milltown, Co. Cavan. Photo: Lorraine Teevan
John Large

John Large

All our rams have been out with the ewes since the start of November to pick out and serve any ewes that did not hold to AI

After the first days when obviously the rams were very excited, there has not been much activity.

Not many ewes have been marked yet but usually it can be the next cycle when we see more ewes showing signs of heat. We do not really know why - maybe the use of sponges can upset their natural cycle. This year the average weight of our ewes at AI was 71kg which is 5kg more than last year.

The number of lame ewes is down from 12pc to 4pc this year. With the extra body weight, our condition score is also up, with most ewes scoring between 3.5 and 4 and just about 10pc with a condition score of 3 or less.

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The big factor which could have an influence on conception rate this year is the weather.

We have had plenty of rain for the last month and sheep do not like wet conditions.

Grass is also behind where we were last year. Utilisation is not as good and we are closing up fields as they are grazed off.

We have some fodder beet tops available for one lot of ewes and this will take the pressure off the remaining grass.

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We have moved another group to ground usually grazed by cattle which were all housed by the beginning of November, a month earlier than in 2018.

These ewes will graze off any grass there and this should keep them out until after Christmas. Any ewes on the home farm will be in the shed by early December and fed silage until scanning.

Fodder rape

We sowed fodder rape in August, one field was sowed direct into a well-eaten grass field using a machine that just cuts the sod with a disc and places the seed in the slot left in the soil.

We then rolled the field, slowly with a flat roller full of water immediately after sowing.

The following day we spread just P and K fertilizer and sprayed off with round-up.

We then spread two bags of Nitrogen when the crop was well established.

The results are excellent with a great crop of leafy material which we are feeding to the last of our lambs.

We had to wait a few weeks to get a few days dry together before we put the lambs onto the field. They have a run back onto a grass field which should help to keep them clean.

At the same time we sowed the same variety of rape onto stubble ground after winter barley.

This ground was disced and sown with a power harrow type direct seeder.

Everything went well until it started to rain and now we have a field that has a yellow, rusty colour with very little growth for the last month. We will use this for the dry ewe-lambs when they come back from some rented grass.

With all the sheds cleaned out and power-hosed we will now turn our attention replacing some walk through troughs, repairs to feed rails and water drinkers.

Indo Farming


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