Rain takes its toll in Donegal
Persistent rainfall since July has resulted in poor grass growth and severe poaching
Since our last update in June from Michael Duffy's farm in Donegal, the focus on sheep farms has been on completing the silage and weaning operations followed by drafting lambs for sale and preparing ewes for next year's lamb crop.
Michael has been busy on all of those tasks. The main topic of conversation at present, though, is the poor weather that we have experienced in the northwest during July and August.
This will come as a shock to many from the southeast who have experienced periods of drought. I heard that one farmer, who takes daily weather records on his farm, said recently that there was only seven days without rainfall during July.
The weather data records for the meteorological station at Malin Head shows that the July rainfall of 109.9mm is 36pc above mean July rainfall of 80.8mm.
This rainfall has given rise to poor grass growth rates and severe poaching, especially on heavy soils, excessive damage during silage making operations and poor lamb growth rates. There has no let-up from the rain in September.
Michael Duffy weaned his flock from July 12-28 (477 and 60 pet lambs). "My average weaning age was 101 days and I was quite happy with the 265grams/day growth rate to weaning. The average weaning weight was 31.95kg.
"The lamb growth rates ranged from 350g/day for the best group to 220g/day for the worst group. I weaned my hoggets on July 12 at an average age of 89 days to give them adequate time to recover before mating".