Farm Ireland

Sunday 22 July 2018

Tommy Boland: Weather extremes will hit weight targets

Lambs and ewes grazing multi-species sward at UCD Lyons Farm
Lambs and ewes grazing multi-species sward at UCD Lyons Farm
Tommy Boland

Tommy Boland

It’s almost inevitable that my articles this year start with a discussion about the weather.

The month of May here was exceptionally dry, and with the exception of a deluge on Friday, June 8, this month has started in a similar fashion at Lyons Farm.

We received about 30pc of our normal rainfall in May and while this led to great conditions for silage harvest, soil moisture deficit is now having a major impact on grass growth.

This is especially the case on the sheep grazing ground on the hill.

Due to the very shallow soil depth on this portion of the farm, it is particularly prone to burning up in dry weather and that is happening at the moment.

This is not what we needed as lambs were already behind target at their six-week weighing due to the very difficult spring so at this stage we are unlikely to hit our weaning weight targets.

What we are seeing at the moment is grass is heading out due to the physiological stress it is under so rotation length is running at about 15 to 16 days to minimise the impact this is having on sward quality.

Also the ewes and lambs are being removed from swards at a post grazing sward height of approximately 5.5cm, with dry cows being used to take these swards down to approximately 4.5cm.

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Lambs received an anthelmintic treatment for nematodirus during May, which also contained cobalt, and ewes and lambs have been foot-bathed on three occasions since turnout on their passage through the handling unit.

Lambs have all been crutched at this stage and we plan on carrying out a faecal egg count test this week to determine if another dose is needed.

Lambs will be weaned on June 20 approximately, with lambs moving onto silage aftergrass at that stage.

We have a crop of wheat earmarked for whole crop silage around mid-July with the intention to sow Redstart immediately after harvesting for finishing lambs.

This is something which fits into the system here at Lyons where we have a lot of tillage taking place, and importantly the machinery also.

Assoc. professor Tommy Boland; lecturer in sheep production, Lyons Farm, University College Dublin. @Pallastb

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