Forage crops a solid option for finishing lambs
With no sign of any big amount of rain in the near future, grass supply remains almost non-existent in the southern part of the country. Having to feed meal to most of the lambs is adding a big cost to the primary producer.
Then you see quotes for lambs dropping in price every few days -they are now down to 490c/kg.
When you compare this to the price available a month ago there is a massive drop of €1/kg, which represents a loss of €20/hd on a lamb producing a 20kg carcase. Factories are also more strict on under-finished light lambs, with some imposing 20c/kg penalties on lambs under 16kg carcass at slaughter.
While I understand under-finished lambs are a significant issue and are causing unnecessary problems on the market in terms of both numbers and price, I think the factories could a least stabilise the price and this would give farmers some incentive to feed their lambs meal and get them up in weight before being slaughtered.
This should lead to an improvement for both parties by removing most of the under-finished lambs from the market and the farmer not getting cut on his agreed price. Also not helping the situation is the lack of people not buying store lambs, again due to the lack of grass.
Farmers who would have traditionally bought forward stores at this time of year for a short-term keep, are non existent in the marts.
We will have to wait and see will they return to the market or do they need what grass that will grow "after we get rain" for silage for the other stock on their farms.
As the farmer on the ground what options have I to finish lambs for the rest of this year? Forage crops could play a part. I will sow after winter barley which is already harvested. Unfortunately, it is too late to sow kale.