All the sheep are on 71 DMD silage (CP 12.7 & ME 10.9). However, the pH is only 4.4 and with DM of 20.9, palatability could become an issue later on as the feeding face is exposed to the air.
"Based on my experience of the last two years I am feeding my ewes 0.2kgs of concentrate and my ewe lambs are getting about 0.8 kg/day. Both are on a 13pc CP lamb finishing ration but I will add some soya bean meal to the ewe lambs at a rate of 1:6 to bring the CP to 18pc. I am adopting this approach so that I only have one type of ration to purchase at present."
In a 2013 Teagasc media article entitled 'Efficient sheep production in a subsidy free environment - Research from Athenry' it states that December shearing of March lambing ewes results in lambs that are up to 0.6kgs heavier at birth and 2.4kgs heavier at weaning when compared to lambs from ewes that were housed but not shorn.
This is because of higher intakes of silage by the shorn ewes.
"The data from this study illustrate, that shearing housed ewes increases subsequent lamb performance such that they are fit for slaughter two weeks earlier than lambs from housed ewes which were unshorn," states the study.
Another Teagasc Athenry researcher, Philip Creighton, maintains it is the growth before Christmas that counts as growth from January 1 until lambing can be very disappointing. Table 2 shows the closing off strategy adopted by Mr Creighton in Athenry.
Michael Duffy says he started closing off this year on October 25.
"I closed approximately 2ha. I had 5ha closed by November 5. I closed another 3ha in mid- November, followed by 8ha on December 1. By December 12 I had 38 ha (94ac) closed off and there was a reasonable cover of about 5cms on the November 1 closed fields," Michael says.
"I may not have adhered to Philip Creighton's targets but if the weather stays in January there should be adequate grass in March for my projected lambing flock of 335 ewes," he forecasts.
"I am a bit concerned about some patches of yellowing that I notice in many fields this autumn. At the moment I am putting it down to the very wet September we had but am not fully convinced. I will raise it at our sheep discussion group meeting and see if others have noticed anything similar."
Lamb Sales 2016
Michael's lamb sales were behind previous years' patterns until October but have caught up since. He has about 85pc sold at present. He would like to be getting more sold in the June to September period and feels that better grassland management is the key.
Michael has over 1,000 store lambs purchased this year and very few of those have been sold to date. These lambs have been treated as per 2015 as follows: two wormers (yellow and clear); Ovivac; Triclabendazole for those less than 40kgs and Duotech for those above 40kgs; footbath, Cobalt and grass for two to three weeks and introduced to meals. They are then shorn as they are housed.
John Cannon is a Teagasc drystock and business advisor based in Mohill, Co Leitrim.