Grass is getting tight but lambs' creep gates are working a treat

Freshly sheared sheep. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Freshly sheared sheep. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
John Large

John Large

It is hard to believe that we didn't have rain of any quantity for six weeks until last weekend.

Grass on the grazing paddocks is getting tight due to the cold nights and very windy dry days. Having said that utilisation is excellent with no problem grazing out paddocks. We are dividing paddocks, using three rows of electric poly wire, for two reasons: firstly, to slow down rotation by getting two extra days from each paddock. And by using creep gates for the lambs to the next paddock, the ewes are eating down the grass well while the lambs have access to the best of the grass.

We had some paddocks too strong to graze in late April so we put extra fertilizer on about 25 acres, which should be ready to cut after May 20. We have cut 15 acres during the first week of May which yielded six bales per acre.

There has not been much regrowth on this ground but with rain it will come on quickly and be back into the grazing rotation.

We have another 12 acres that is only closed up since late April and will not be ready for cutting until mid-June. This should give us enough feed for next winter. From now on if growth starts to go ahead of what grass we need, our aim is to take out a few paddocks for reseeding.

All the lambs born in March have been dosed using a white drench. They also got their first shot of Heptavac- P. A lot of lambs were lame so all were put through the footbath made up of Zinc Sulphate and left stand on the clean dry yard for half an hour afterwards for the zinc to dry into their feet. We got a very good result and most lambs are now cured.

With the weather so good we also got time to dag any dirty ewes. We are now considering whether we should shear these ewes in late May with the intention of shearing them again in September.


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Shearing twice would be worthwhile if we could avoid having to use Clik to prevent fly strike. It would also stop ewes going over on their backs and have less wool on them when they come into the shed next winter.

Trials have shown that ewes shorn twice yearly have a significantly higher condition score pre-mating but show no difference in condition score or number of lambs reared than ewes shorn once in early summer. So it may only be of benefit as an aid to ewe management.

All the lambs have been weighed, I do not have the exact results back yet but they seem to be a very even lot with very few light lambs and a lot of lambs weighing about 20kg.

This would give us a gain of over 300g per day which is what you would expect after a good spring with plenty of grass.

The only sheep getting meal are the ewe lambs rearing twins. We are feeding 0.75kg in two feeds. They are doing well with the lambs having access to a creep feeder even though they are not eating much yet. These lambs have to be dosed and vaccinated soon and their mothers will also be dosed.

As they are still growing they need to be dosed for worms, we will use Cydectin Oral Drench.

They will get a mineral dose the same day. We have the dry hoggets and rams shorn already.

Jobs for the next month include giving the March lambs their second injection of Heptavac-P and possibly another dose for worms. We will see what worm counts are like first and then decide what to use.

John Large farms at Gortnahoe, Co Tipperary

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