Tom Staunton - 'It's all systems go ahead of the autumn sales season'
All the lambs have been weaned at this stage, and both the ewes and lambs were in good shape at weaning compared to previous years.
The weather over the past 12 months has been a major factor in the sheep being in better condition.
Grass was plentiful over the winter and has been on the farm this year to date. Once weaned the lambs go back to the field in which they were before weaning. They are familiar with their surroundings and know where to find water in that field.
The ewes are taken away where lambs can neither hear nor see them. Ewes go to some rough grazing for a few weeks to help them dry up. I will then select ewes for culling.
If they are in good enough condition, they will go directly to the factory. The thinner ewes will get good grass for a number of weeks until they ready. If grass wasn't as plentiful I would sell them straight away too.
Lambs will now get preferential treatment on the farm. They will get the best grass and don't have ewes competing with them for it.
I will keep an eye on worm levels, and lambs will be supplemented with minerals and cobalt until finished or sold.
Lambs haven't had much of a setback after weaning and seem to be thriving now. I will weigh next week to see how they are thriving.
There has been good demand for store lambs over the past few weeks. I decided to sell a bunch of forward store Mule wether lambs. These lambs were not far off finished.
The remainder of the Mule wether lambs will be kept on and finished off grass and meal over the next few months.
Managing grass has been a challenge over the past month as grass growth has been good.
Perhaps we are a bit understocked but we have managed to keep good-quality grass ahead of lambs with some topping off fields, and some fields have been taken up for a second cut of silage. I hope to make silage bales from this over the next week.
The continuous cycle of sheep farming is starting all over again as preparing ewes for the ram is just around the corner.
The Bluefaced Leicester ewes will be the first to go to the ram at the end of September.
Preparation starts with culling the ewes that have a fault or are not performing. The remainder will get a mineral drench and we will make sure that they are clear of fluke and worms.
They will be put onto good-quality grass to allow them to build up body condition before tipping time. All dry hoggets on the farm will be vaccinated against enzootic abortion.
This needs to be done at least four weeks before the ewes go to the rams. I do it as a preventative measure. The first year I vaccinated I did all the ewes on the farm; now it is just the replacements that are vaccinated.
The ewes will also be plunge-dipped. I like to have all these jobs done well in advance of tipping to avoid handling the ewes during the breeding season, which could cause unwanted stress to them and could affect fertility of the ewes.
We are in the middle of the showing season for sheep, and with the breeding sales around the corner I have found good levels of interest in breeding sheep.
Farmers are being more selective on the sheep they are keeping or buying, which will help improve the quality of sheep.
The first breeding sheep we will sell will be our Mule ewe lambs at the annual Mayo Mule & Greyface group Premier sale, which is a two-day sale on August 23-24 - hoggets on the Friday and lambs on the Saturday.
This will be followed by another Mule lamb sale on September 7, and on September 14 we will have our Bluefaced Leicester rams, Lanark Blackface rams and some Lanark ewe lambs for sale at Ballinrobe.
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