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Thursday 13 December 2018

New ram has come up trumps with his first progeny

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A "lamb" ing weather. A hardy Ewe and her lambs huddle for warmth in Crubany, Cavan this week. Photo: Lorraine Teevan
Terence McMahon, Karl Hogan and Robert Shecklton at Kingscourt mart. Photo: Lorraine Teevan

Tom Staunton

The lambing season has begun. It started off with a few ewes that were sponged early in order to fertility test the rams going to sale.

Both delivered sets of triplets, this was followed by some of the purebred Bluefaced Leicester ewes that lambed last week. These lambs are by the new stock ram that we purchased in partnership with Joe Scahill's Faughburren flock last September.

I'm very happy with what I see so far from the ram bought from the Mullaghwee flock in Northern Ireland. The lambs have good length and depth and some nice colour too.

All have lambed for now and I look forward to the repeat ewes that are to lamb next week.

These will be followed by the main flock of Blackface (Lanark type) ewes. These ewes will have both Lanark and Mule lambs.

I have some purebred Lanark ewes to lamb to the £90,000 Blackhouse, a Scottish bloodline that we are trying this time. I have seen stock he has bred in Scotland and I hope he adds some of his traits to ours. A few ram lambs out of him would be nice to sell at the West of Ireland Lanark breeder's sale in Ballinrobe in September.

The decision to put up a new shed last year seems like a good one at the moment. The weather conditions have been difficult for both sheep and man this spring and winter to date.

Feeding of the ewes indoors is definitely much easier for me and I'm hopeful that some grass will start to grow for when the ewes go out after lambing. Last year they received no concentrates at grass and this is the intention this year also as we found it worked very well for us.

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For this to happen I plan to get some urea out on the early grazing ground at about a ½ a bag/acre. I looked back on last year's diary to see when it went out and it was put out the first week of February.

What a difference a year makes. I notice that there is a difference in grass covers on the farm but with the ewes lambing a little later than usual this might help to compensate.

Vitamins

Ewes are currently being fed a meal mix of flaked maize, rolled barley, soyabean meal and sugar beet pulp from Kiernan milling. They are also getting silage twice a day.

The single ewes are getting 400g of this mix/head/day and the couples are getting 700g of the same mix with added minerals and vitamins. The couples have been fed this the last few weeks and I'm quite happy with the way the first few ewes lambed down too. I will add some extra soya bean meal (100-150g) to the couple and triplet ewes for the last two weeks pre-lambing.

This will help the growth of the lambs during the last two weeks when they are growing the most and also help with boosting colostrum quality and quantity at lambing time.

Getting lambs off to the best start as possible is key to getting good growth rates. I put a huge emphasis on milking ability and mothering ability of ewes when I'm selecting replacements.

These are traits that should improve overall production ability and help reduce workload on the farm too. The Lanark type ewe lambs that are due to lamb in April are also getting 400g of the same mix which will help them to grow and develop for when they lamb down. These will lamb down to a new Lanark ram lamb bought last year.

With a break in lambing at the moment, the lambing area will be washed down and disinfected before the next batch begin. I will also make sure I have enough lambing supplies before the large batch of ewes that were AI'd will begin.

I have help organised for the week the ewes will lamb with my sons taking some time off work. I'm hopeful that the weather will be kind to us too so we can get ewes out to grass. Best wishes to all for a successful lambing.

Tom Staunton farms in Tourmakeady, Co Mayo


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