Farm Ireland

Thursday 22 March 2018

Minimising stress is the priority at this stage of the breeding season

Vivienne & Jackie Ryan with Lot 11 for next Saturday's Texel Inlamb Ewe sale in Blessington Mart at 1.00m. All proceeds from the sale of this ewe will go to the Irish Cancer Society.
Vivienne & Jackie Ryan with Lot 11 for next Saturday's Texel Inlamb Ewe sale in Blessington Mart at 1.00m. All proceeds from the sale of this ewe will go to the Irish Cancer Society.

Tom Staunton

I recently killed a batch of lambs that I was fattening. These were inside for the few weeks up until slaughter and killed out well.

They were all-Mule wether lambs and some Mountain Blackface lambs. They averaged just over 21.6kg deadweight and a few of these lambs graded Us. I still have a few more left that are nearly ready. The lambs killed out better than other batches that didn't get as much concentrates.

It' s encouraging to see the price of lamb increasing and holding well.

I have opened up my first bale of silage for the year for the last of the lambs inside for fattening.

These are on a high level of concentrates and I feed them some silage as a source of roughage even though they aren't eating that much of it. I am happy with the look of the first bale and the lambs are happy with it too. I will get samples taken from several bales for testing soon.

Based on the results, I will decide what type of feed I will need to feed the ewes pre-lambing.

I completed the compulsory GLAS course last week. It was good to go through the detail again to refresh the memory. It was also great to see a farm with fantastic dry stone walls and low input permanent pasture, which are two of the options I have taken for GLAS.

The ewes and rams aren't showing much activity the past few weeks.

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There have been some repeats but nothing alarming at this stage.

When I see a ewe or two in a bunch repeating it makes me wonder is this just a normal once off or is it a tipping point in terms of fertility. It makes me question is the ram fertile and working ok? Thankfully, I think all the rams were fertile this season. I have swapped rams around to different batches of ewes and let some back up rams in with ewes just in case I have missed anything. Better safe than sorry.

It is important that ewes aren't disturbed at this stage as implantation doesn't occur until around day 15 after mating.

Keeping stress to a minimum is important. This stress can come in many forms including nutritional stress where ewes are underfed or where there is a change in diet.

Moving ewes and handling them too much can also be a problem as well as changes in weather conditions.

Ewes will not be handled until housing when they will be fluke-dosed again and sorted. It's important to keep an eye on ewes for signs of fluke, especially after all the wet weather we have had. Body condition is something I'm watching too. If the poor weather continues I might give some feed buckets to ewes on tighter grass supplies to give them a bit more energy.

I currently have 20 stronger Blackface Lanark type ewe lambs with a Lanark ram lamb. These will run together for three weeks. I will then take the ram up. I am hoping to get some lambs off these ewe lambs as they are younger and a different breed line.

The ewe lambs will be fed differently than if they were dry for the winter. Because they will be carrying lambs and are still growing, they need that little extra attention to make sure they aren't stunted and that they lamb down healthy and can rear their lambs next spring.

It is a different system, it doesn't suit everyone but can be very rewarding if done right.

Tom Staunton farms in Tourmakeady, Co Mayo

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