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Sunday 22 July 2018

Sudden surge in grass growth brought its own problems

Tom Staunton

It has been a busy past month with many jobs for doing and even more so with the welcome sunshine and heat.

This recent spell of good weather has allowed me to try and get on top of jobs. All the lambs have been treated with a pour-on against blowfly strike, some spraying of weeds, dosing, shearing, topping, fencing, silage, reseeding and the list goes on.

There is no lack of work when the weather suits and of course there are many jobs that cannot be done if the weather doesn't suit.

The silage was mown in dry and sunny conditions and was left to wilt for nearly two days. I wanted to get the silage a bit drier than last year to aid with palatability and perhaps it will help keep bedding drier. I found last year that there was more waste on the wetter bales and I also wanted to avoid this. The number of bales is back on last year but some of this is due to the drier feed but also the poor weather this spring. I could have left it grow a bit more but the quality would have suffered.

I plan to take a second cut of silage off some of the ground to ensure I have enough next winter. The after-grass will be kept for Mule and Lanark ewe lambs at weaning time.

The reseeded ground is starting to come with Typhon starting to show its head. It should be ready for grazing to coincide with weaning in early July and I hope to fatten the wether lambs off this with an aim of a 20-21kg carcass.

Grass management in general has been difficult. At first the huge burst of growth was brilliant and took much pressure off but all of a sudden there wasn't enough heads around to eat it. Some fields got stemmy and were topped to help refresh the grass.

I went to the National Sheep Breeders Association (NSBA) show in Cillin Hill in Kilkenny. I had no stock on show but was helping with the Mayo Mule & Greyface group, Bluefaced Leicester Society and West of Ireland Lanark Sheep breeders who were all displaying sheep and promoting their sales for the coming year.

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Enthusiasm

There was some great sheep to be seen on the day, with many All-Irelands taking place for different breed societies.

It was good to catch up with friends from around the country and also to see the enthusiasm at the event for the sheep industry as a whole. It would be great to see the event grow and develop over the next few years.

It marked the start of a busy show and sale season for many of us, as I am currently in the middle of helping to organise or local Tourmakeady Agricultural Show.

All these events take months of planning and organising and hopefully the weather will be kind to us on July 22.

Our first show where we will be showing sheep will be at Sheep 2018 in Athenry on July 7. It will be busy day with Lanark, Mule and Bluefaced Leicesters all for showing.

The shearing on the farm is well under way. It began with the rams and dry ewe hoggets and the ewes rearing lambs were next. I was eager to make a start on the ewes because of the reports of Blowfly. Overall sheep were in fair condition to shear. Ewes actually surprised me with body condition as the majority of the flock togged out quite well.

There were a few of course which were in poorer condition, but there are always a few ewes that way every year. I always find that shearing is a good time to see a ewe with her lambs and assess the condition of both.

Some ewes are marked for culling but a final verdict will be made at weaning. I hope to finish shearing soon and tick another job off the list.

Tom Staunton farms in Tourmakeady, Co Mayo.

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