Tom Staunton: 'How to keep lambs thriving ahead of their big day'

Tom Staunton

Silage was cut back in early June. It was about a week later than last year. This was not due to the crop not being ready to cut but more to with the fact that I like to get the crop as dry as possible.

I find that there is very little waste when the silage is like this. It was difficult to get a few days to make it this way. It was cut, tedded out, left to dry for a day and then baled.

The bale count is a bit lower when its drier but the same amount of feeding is still there.

I have taken up another few acres for another cut of silage just to make sure that I will have enough fodder for the winter. 18-6-12 was spread on the silage ground to help replenish some of the nutrient reserves lost to the silage.

The slurry tanks were also emptied and spread on other fields to give a boost to grass reserved for lambs at weaning. The after-grass will also be welcome for the weaned lambs to help them thrive on after weaning.

We have started to wean lambs, beginning with the oldest purebred Bluefaced Leicester lambs that were born the last few days of February and into March.

At this stage the ewes were not providing them much milk and the lambs are eating meal.

I'm happy with the way lambs have thrived over the past six weeks and I hope they continue this in preparation for the Bluefaced Leicester Ram sale in Ballinrobe in September.

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Shearing is complete for another year except for a few late lambers. In general the ewes were in great shape for shearing.

Body condition is good for this time of year.

We shear all the ewes ourselves and this gives us an opportunity to see the lambs each ewe has.

This gives an indication on which ewes should be culled. Ewes and lambs will also be assessed at weaning time. This will help pick the replacements we want to keep but also the ewes to cull.

Ewes will be culled for broken mouths, mastitis, prolapse, poor thriving lambs and lameness. Lameness hasn't been a problem with ewes apart from a few with scald.

Hoggets

The dry ewe hoggets have been dosed and shorn and are growing away quite well. They don't need as much attention as the ewes and lambs. I look forward to bringing in this batch of replacements into the flock this year.

The first batch of lambs was sent to the factory on June 25 through the Mayo Blackface group. Twenty lambs were sold. The lambs, mostly singles, were straight off the ewe and these lambs didn't get any meal.

The lambs were Mule wethers and some Lanark type Blackface ram lambs. They were 42-48kg in weight. I'm still waiting on kill report at the time of writing. I am interested to see how they kill out. After all the hard work, It's a pity the price continues to slip.

All the lambs received a clear wormer at shearing time and some a top up of trace elements.

Lambs are clean with no scour present. I hope this wormer sees many of them through to finish.

I will begin to monitor faecal egg counts to determine whether they will need another dose or not.

There is one part of the farm that I have to keep an eye on the level of fluke present. Lambs didn't thrive as well on this part last year but up till now they have done well.

Keeping lambs thriving is important over the coming weeks up until weaning. And then to keep weaning as stress-free as possible, and allow the lambs to thrive on after. Once weaned the ewes will be put on rough grazing for three to four weeks and then they will be built up on good grass for mating later in the year.

Meanwhile, the summer shows are beginning and I look forward to meeting up with friends around the country.

Indo Farming


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