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Tuesday 16 January 2018

The flock's scoring averages have improved this season

Mayo/Connemara Sheep Show of Blackface Rams: 1st place Hogget Ram Michael O' Neill, Tuar Mhic Eadaigh collecting his prize from Stephen Grealis and Seamus Joyce. Photo: Conor McKeown
Mayo/Connemara Sheep Show of Blackface Rams: 1st place Hogget Ram Michael O' Neill, Tuar Mhic Eadaigh collecting his prize from Stephen Grealis and Seamus Joyce. Photo: Conor McKeown
John Large

John Large

With all ewes having undergone AI in two groups on October 16 and 18, the pressure is off for another year.

They were two big days of work, but with plenty of help and a good plan all went well.

The ewes were in good condition with 95pc on a 3.5 body condition score (BCS) or better. The number of ewes under 3.5 BCS is down to 1pc this year from 5pc in 2016.

Our average ewe weight also increased by nearly 3kg to 73kg. They ranged from 47kg to 101kg.

The number of ewes lame also decreased from 11pc to 4pc.

Doing small things better such as dividing ewes after weaning and looking after their feet pays results and the ewes become a more uniform group at mating.

We used 21 rams from four different breeds - Texel, Suffolk, Charollais and Belclare. We have the ewes divided into three groups and rams were let out to them last Saturday to pick up the repeats. They will be removed the first week of December.

The 160 ewe lambs will all go to the ram the same day so they will lamb with the repeat ewes in April.

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The rams will be removed December 1 and ewes not in lamb will be kept dry for the summer.

The difference between hogget ewes that reared lambs and the ones dry for the first year was 7kg in weight and half a condition score in body condition.

The dry ones also seem a lot wilder and we have also noticed at lambing time these dry hoggets can be slow to take to their lambs.

Our ewe lambs this year are well grown and all over 45kg. They averaged 47kg when weighed last week.

They all got dosed for worms and received a mineral bolas, that will last for six months. They have been moved to rented grass which should could keep them well fed until next January.

Grazing

We are trying to graze out fields well before closing up for next spring. With the weather so wet, ground conditions are not helpful. We are finding it hard to get down to 4cm - the last field was more like 6cm.

We will go back in after a few weeks and graze again to get more of that poor quality grass grazed off so that it won't impact next spring's new growth. This later grazing will affect the amount of grass on the field next spring.

The lambs on the fodder rape are doing ok, but not as well as last year.

Again weather is the main problem. The crop seems to have stopped growing since the ground got wet in mid-September.

The dry parts of the field seem to be stronger and greener than the rest of the field.

We will go through these lambs and pick off any that are fit for sale. Kill out will be better than off grass so we will pick from 44kg upwards.

After this draft we will introduce some meal to the remaining lambs.

The field of fodder rape sown after spring barley on September 6 is very poor and will not feed much lambs. So it is best to feed them now and have them gone by December.

Our next jobs are to do some repairs to the feed rails in one shed and get the farm yard manure spread before the cut off date in November.

John Large farms in Co Tipperary


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