Maintaining quality grass supply is the main focus as we wean the lambs
The first group of lambs were weaned at Lyons last week at 100 days of age or just slightly over 14 weeks.
These were twin lambs that were part of a research project looking at easy-to-measure predictors of feed intake and, ultimately, feed efficiency for grazing sheep, which is part of Michelle McManus's PhD project.
Despite being in the yard for some part of the day, every day for five weeks, the lambs achieved a very respectable weaning weight of 34.75kg. This represents a daily growth rate from birth to weaning of approximately 300g per day.
In my last article, I wrote that the hill ground was struggling a little for moisture. Since then the situation has improved and grass growth was maintained at normal levels over the last four weeks. Rain arrived at the correct times to keep the grass growing, without conditions ever becoming wet. This resulted in highly digestible, high dry-matter grass being available to the flock, which is critical to maintain animal performance.
Lambs received a cobalt drench at weaning and, though we plan to bolus animals with a cobalt bolus in the coming weeks, there were some issues in sourcing these for weaning. A small number of lambs were drafted for the factory just in time to coincide with the price drop!
Maintaining a good supply of high-quality grass is the key focus now for the remaining lambs in order to finish them as soon as possible.
Grass quality and quantity are two of the major issues restricting lamb performance on Irish sheep farms and the recent open day held in Teagasc Athenry focused strongly on good grassland management.
At the risk of repeating myself, I would also pose the question as: how many people know their animals' performance?