Lambs will be playing catch up on their weight gain targets
After an extremely difficult and late spring everything has changed for the better.
With grass growth improving, meal feeding of ewes was cut out the first week of May.
We are only feeding hoggets that are rearing twins and this will stop soon. We are just using up what meal is still in the shed.
Their lambs have access to creep feeder and are eating about 200grs per head per day. We will keep feeding creep up until weaning.
We are dividing paddocks with three rows of poly wire for ewes and lambs, allowing them enough grass for three days. This gives us a good clean-out of the grass quickly and helps with re-growth. We have taken out some paddocks for silage, putting on two bags of 18.6.12 per acre.
These should be ready for cutting the second week of June. We have more that will be ready to cut the end of May.
This will all be made into baled silage; mowed and tedded out to improve dry matter then baled on the third day after mowing.
Our aim is to push on grazing ground to get maximum growth, taking out all extra grass for winter feed. When we look back at this time last year we had 100 surplus bales left over from the year before and over 100 bales made.
This year we have just a few bales of hay in the shed so the push is on to gather up somewhere about 700 bales between hay and silage for the coming winter.
All the CPT lambs were weighed the last days of April. They had an average live-weight of 17.3kg. Surprisingly the Belclare lambs were the heaviest at 18.2kg, with the other three breeds on 17kg.
When you subtract the birth weight, 4.7kg, and divide by their age (46 days) you get an average daily gain of 270grs. This is below our target of 300grs/day. We would hope to make up some ground before weaning, but we would still expect to be below our target of 30kg.
All these lambs were dosed the same day for both nematodirus and Coccidiosis, showing an immediate response with any scouring lambs drying up.
They were all put through the foot-bath made up of zinc-sulphate to treat them for scald.
The April born lambs were dosed last week, we also dosed the hogget ewes rearing twins as they need every chance to hold body condition. Just the hoggets rearing singles and their lambs have to be dosed now. We use Cydectin on the hoggets and a white drench for the lambs.
Our priority now is to keep grass quality right by taking out grass when we have too much and going in with fertiliser when we see a deficit arising.
Keep on top of worm burden in lambs by taking samples and knowing when to dose. Foot-bath every time sheep are in the yard and get prepared to treat for fly-strike by dagging dirty ewes.
We will use a pour-on product on both ewes and lambs. With ewes not having been shorn until late July, they will get full rate "click" which should cover them for at least two months.
The Irish Grassland Sheep Association used our farm last week as the farm visit part of their conference day.
It was very well organised, with three excellent speakers in the morning session at the hotel. After lunch a good crowd arrived on our farm where a couple of hours were spent explaining and discussing our farming system with the help of my Teagasc advisers and Sheep Ireland.
It is important to share knowledge and no harm to open your gates to people who are involved in the same business and are also interested in sharing their information with you. I would like to thank the Grassland Association and to everyone who attended.
John Large farms at Gortnahoe, Co Tipperary
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