John Large: How we shield lambs from surge in grass growth
When grass growth is high at this time of year the challenge of managing this grass is usually trying to get swards grazed out satisfactorily without any adverse effects on lamb performance.
We are dividing paddocks with a temporary fence using three rows of polly wire and plastic stakes. We give enough so we are in and out in three or four days. This way we are protecting re-growth, it helps us to achieve better grazing management and animal performance.
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It is easy to divide the paddocks when the water troughs are positioned half way up the paddock not just inside the gate. We move water troughs when we are re-seeding the field and now most of them are in the correct position.
Another challenge is grass getting ahead. When covers get over 8cm, we skip a paddock and take it out for bale silage. It is very important not to leave these paddocks growing for too long, take them out quickly and they will be back ready for grazing on the next round.
When the weather improves, we have silage to make this week and also a couple of strong paddocks to bale. We will cut when it's dry - in the afternoon if possible when sugars should be high. The next day we will spread out the grass and then, on the third day, gather up, bale, wrap and put into the stack. We cover the bales when stacked with a net. This keeps the crows away, with damage kept to a minimum.
All lambs have been dosed for nematodious and it definitely worked with all lambs that were showing signs of scour drying up after a few days.
We dosed the last week of April and the lambs born in early April will be dosed this week. We put all through the foot-bath the same day. Not many were lame and we had just a few with scald.
The lambs were all weighed in April but I have not any information back yet. Just from watching them as they were being weighed, they seem an uneven year's lambs with some very good lambs up near 20kg and a tail end of lambs around 13kg. This could be the result of a very big crop of lambs.
The dry hoggets are eating off a field that we are going to reseed. We sprayed it with round-up and put the hoggets in three days later. They will eat it down well, then we will sow with a power-harrow after putting out lime and a compound fertiliser at three bags per acre.
All-Ireland Sheep Shearing
These hoggets are going to the All-Ireland Sheep Shearing Festival which is being held at the Cashel Rugby Club, Co Tipperary on May 25 and 26. There will be shearing on the opening day, with a barbeque at 6pm and the big attraction, The Bulmers Speed Shear, at 9pm. This competition will show the top shearers removing the wool from the lambs in less than 20 seconds.
Sunday is the main day, with competition shearing starting at 8am and finishing up around 4pm. There will be competitors from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England and further afield. Also on the day there are Sheep-Dog Trials, Animal Health Village, Food, Craft and Trade Stands and a Kids Zone.
The organising committee deserve great credit for taking on the enormous job of running this festival - 100 volunteers run the show for the two days. The logistics of getting 1,000 hoggets in and out of a marquee positioned in a rugby field involves a lot of work.
Here's to a dry weekend and we all get our own sheep home.
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