"I had a good grass supply so my thin ewes were given top-quality grass to help them get back to a target 'condition score' of 3.5 at mating. I will not starve or restrict any of the medium or fat ewes as I know from past experience that it is crucial to have them in top condition going to the ram in October."
At present Michael has 50pc of his lambs on ad-lib creep.
These are getting a cobalt dose every 12-14 days and Michael is "very happy" with their performance to date.
The remaining 50pc (that were on a grass-only regime until weaning) are now on 0.5kg meal (in troughs) since weaning plus cobalt every two weeks. Michael has slaughtered 180 lambs to date since May (approx. 33pc).
He has 65 ewe lambs selected for replacements, which leaves 485 lambs. Michael said: "I have a lot of forward lambs that will be killed in August, which is a complete contrast to previous years."
Michael described the grass growth to date as "patchy but reasonably good". He elaborated further saying that "growth came in spurts which left management difficult and quality mixed".
He described his fertiliser use to date as "normal". At the moment he has a surplus of grass, and with his own lambs performing so well he bought some store lambs last week.
He has 350 purchased and on the farm.
He has concentrated on buying direct from the farm of origin this year to minimise the disease risk.
He also said that "based on grass growth to date this year I will increase my ewe numbers for 2019 by about 10pc". Michael has taken advantage of the good weather and sub-soiled some 10 acres of ground.
He also decided to replace/improve the drainage in a wet corner of on field. He has spread 40 tonnes of ground limestone in 2018 and will spread another 40 later if ground conditions hold up.
Silage and Winter Fodder
Michael said he has "about 125pc of my winter feed requirement at present".
"I took my first cut on May 29," he said.
"Bulk was slightly back on 2017 but the quality should be excellent. I got slurry out immediately and the grass had greened up about 10 days later - before the dry weather came.
"Since then I have made 140 round bales of silage and 20 bales of hay."
About 50 bales of silage are from a planned second cut with remaining silage and hay being taken from grazing paddocks that were surplus to stock requirements.
In my last report I mentioned that Orf and Scald were issues.
The Orf-M appears to have worked on the Orf and regular foot bathing is keeping Scald at bay.
Michael has given three worm drenches to lambs to date.
A Benzimidazole/ 'white wormer' in May for Nematodirus was followed in June with a Levamisole / 'yellow wormer' drench and a Macrocyclic lactone / 'clear wormer' in July (Ivermectin).
Due to the dry weather up to now worms have not been a major issue. This is likely to change quite rapidly now given the rainfall over the past two week period.
Michael will focus his attention on grassland management from now until mating.
He will want to keep his own lambs performing, get the purchased lambs settled in and gaining weight and on getting all his ewes to a BCS of 3.5 at mating.
In addition he hopes to purchase 35 replacement ewe lambs (1/4 Belclare). He will buy from the same farmer that he used in 2016 and 2017.
He plans to have 350 ewes and 100 ewe lambs 'going to the ram' this year.
John Cannon is a Teagasc advisor based in Letterkenny, Co Donegal email: email@example.com