Brave sheep buyers rewarded with rising prices and kill weights
Another year has just started and for us it is very different to 2019.
We put in most of the ewes in early December and are feeding them bales of silage that is of good quality and dry.
We scanned all the ewes on New Year's Eve and the results look similar to last year.
We have not divided up all the twins and singles yet, we just have the triplets and empties picked out. We have a conception rate to AI of 75pc and a litter size of two lambs per ewe in-lamb.
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We have started to feed a small amount of meal to the triplets. Starting to feed them early is a lot better than trying to make up ground later in pregnancy when the ewes have lost condition.
When we divide the twins we will pick off any that are in poor condition and put them on the same feed as the triplets. The twins in good condition will not get meal for another few weeks and the singles will not get any meal until three weeks before they lamb.
The only change this year will be to give the single ewes some extra soyabean meal to increase the amount of milk they have at lambing, as, hopefully, a lot of these will have to rear two lambs.
Any ewes that scanned as late or empty are on fodder beet tops.
Due to the wet weather in December we have only started to graze this field now. With a few bales of silage they should have enough until February when the empty ewes will be scanned again and any not in lamb will be sold off as culls.
The rams are outside getting half a kilo of meal to regain some condition. They are in good order and just a couple of them are getting old. They will be assessed in a month to see which of them stays or goes.
We brought home the ewe-lambs before Christmas and put them onto our fodder rape (that did not grow very well). They settled down well. The improvement in the weather was a big help.
We give the ewe lambs enough for four or five days using three rows of poly-wire on plastic stakes for divisions.
The most important item is a good electric fence - once they get used to the fence they are easy to control. We would hope to have enough feed to keep them on this system until the end of February.
Any of last year's lambs still kept to sell are also on fodder rape, even though the weather has not been good for eating this crop in November and early December.
We had lambs ready to sell in December but they were very wet and dirty so we did not send them to the factory until last week.
They had dried out well and all got through the factories' clean livestock policy. We should have another lot to go next week. The good news is the price has gone up and so has the kill weight.
It will be good for those brave buyers who bought what looked like expensive stores last autumn. Hopefully they will make a few euros to keep them interested again next year.
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