Tom Staunton: Factories are shaving every last cent off lamb returns

Tom Staunton with his pen of lambs at the Mayo Mule & Greyface Group sale in Ballinrobe Photo: Conor McKeown
Tom Staunton with his pen of lambs at the Mayo Mule & Greyface Group sale in Ballinrobe Photo: Conor McKeown
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Tom Staunton

All the lambs have been treated with pour-on against Blowfly strike.

I used a longer acting one on the majority of the lambs. Some of the older and stronger lambs were treated with a short withdrawal product (eight days) as some of these lambs could be fit for killing within 40 days, which is the withdrawal period for the long-acting product.

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 I have had a couple of cases of blowfly which prompted me to treat them. Lambs have started getting their booster vaccine for clostridial diseases too.

Grass growth slowed up on the farm for the month of May, with grazed ground slow to regrow due to the dry and cold nights. Silage ground has a good thick base of leafy grass and I hope to cut as soon as the weather picks up again.

I was disappointed with how it had grown during May, but it has caught up recently with the showers of rain helping it along.

I had the grass tested to see if there was any nitrogen left in it and the results were fine. There was also a good level of sugars in the grass when tested.

I chose supplementing lambs with minerals pre-weaning as part of the Sheep Welfare Scheme. All lambs have been dosed with Optimise Sheep which is a mineral drench that covers, Cobalt, Selenium, Copper, Iodine and Zinc and a range of vitamins too.

I use a multi-trace element drench on the farm because of the deficiencies that are in the soil and grass. We see a response with the drenching. We also supplement with Cobalt B12.

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I attended the Balmoral Show this year for the first time in many years. It was great to see the fantastic display of livestock, and in particular the sheep. I saw the Bluefaced Leicester and Mule classes being judged, with a good standard of stock that were turned out brilliantly.

I caught up with friends that I haven't seen since the sales and shows last year.

The show season will begin for us soon. Organising our local Tourmakeady Show is in full swing, as is the organising for the many agricultural events and shows throughout Ireland.


The price of lamb has been very disappointing over the past month. Factories have questions to answer for pulling the price of lamb and leaving the price/kg €1 below last year's levels.

I recently sold some dry ewes to the factory. They were all shorn a week before going to the factory but still a clipping charge was deducted from them. How can the factories justify this charge? It seems the charge is applied across the board now which is unjust.

The factories keep on coming up with ways to cut payments to farmers. How can levies be automatically taken from our cheques without farmers being consulted? The amounts deducted aren't huge but it's the principle of it. And all the charges add up, including the electronic tags.

Since Saturday the introduction of electronic tags to all sheep has been applied. This is causing nothing but headaches for factories, marts and farmers.

The facilities are not in a place to read these tags at marts or factories but still we have to tag our lambs with EID tags.

Will factories, marts or farmers benefit from these electronic tags? There are always talks about new markets but what about targeting valuable markets - for example the United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia, other Middle East countries, USA and Scandinavia.

By adopting electronic tags we should be able to approach these markets and demand a higher price for our efforts and extra costs.

We have a fantastic premium product in our grass-fed lamb and mountain lamb. This meat shouldn't be sold as a commodity product.

Let's hope the electronic tags are used as a tool to promote Irish lamb and deliver a better price for all.

The shearing will continue over the next few weeks. All the dry sheep have been shorn. They were in great shape for shearing.

I'm hopeful that the ewes will be in great shape to shear after a good spring.

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