We have only a few ewes left to lamb, so I should be done by the end of the week.
All ewes and lambs are outside on a diet of grass only. We are grazing in three main groups - this way we do not have to divide paddocks with temporary fence and we still get out of paddocks in three to four days.
Grass growth is not bursting out of the ground - we still have to utilise what we have carefully, with nothing extra being closed for silage.
With a yard full of bales since last year, I do not need extra bales.
The limited amount of grass available now is possibly due to delaying the second round of fertiliser by a week.
We first spread urea on March 21 and now we have spread two bags of 18-6-12 on most of the grazing ground.
We have closed off ground for silage since April 16. This was all grazed out well by the ewes before closing. It received two and a half bags of Cut Sward per acre and should be ready for cutting the first week of June.
We have two paddocks sprayed off to re-seed. One was where we had a crop of fodder rape over the winter. This will be sown next week, with just a drainage pipe to be put in place now.
We will also put in another water trough so the field can be easily grazed in two divisions. We intend using Top 5 Extend with extra clover, 2kg per acre.
Extra clover can add valuable nitrogen to grazing swards. Bacteria in the clover's roots take nitrogen from the air and 'fix' it to a form which is available to grass. The higher the clover content, the greater the amount of nitrogen fixation.
The hard part I find is to keep clover present in the sward.
Grass will grow when the soil temperature is 5-6° Celsius, but temperatures have to be 10°C for white clover to grow. As a result the white clover content of grazing swards tend to be quite low early in the year but it really comes into its own in late April and into May.
Due to the seasonal growth habit of white clover, grazing management is important to keep it growing in grazing swards, especially when it is grown with perennial rye grass.
To maintain a good clover content in a sward you need to graze them tight in the late autumn or early spring. If you cannot get out and graze the sward tight, it will have a negative effect on the clover content in the subsequent year.
White clover generally won't stay in the sward as long as perennial ryegrass - it typically dies out after about five years. So you will have to re-seed more ground each year or over sow white clover into paddocks that have been mowed or grazed tight.
We sowed extra clover last year in two paddocks that were re-seeded both were grazed well last autumn and again this spring, so when we get into May we should see how well they have established.
The other paddock was only sprayed off on April 16.
We let ewe lambs into this paddock after four days to graze it off and they have done a good job, making it easier for the contractor to sow with his one-pass power-harrow and seeder.
Fencing is keeping us busy now, especially where repairs were left over from last year. We have a group of dry hoggets who do not like staying where I want them to graze off after ewe and lambs. It amazes me how they are able to find a weak part in the fence, then they are gone, and always into a good field of grass.
But another few days with the post-driver, then watch out ladies, I will be back in control!
We have started to dose lambs for Nematodirus. I have just one lot done so far. This group had a few dirty lambs and after we carried out a test by dosing a few in the field, the lambs we dosed dried up so we decided to dose all the lambs in that group.
We vaccinated these lambs with Heptivac P the same day. They will get their second injection in four weeks' time.
All went through the foot-bath. There were not many lame ones, possibly due to the dry ground conditions and short grass.
John Large farms at Gortnahoe, Co. Tipperary