Farming

| 12.8°C Dublin

Tom Staunton: We're winding down from lambing and gearing up for silage

Close

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

Learnign curve: Sadhbh O'Connor, a fifth year student at Bandon Grammar School, is being kept busy on the family farm in Upton, Co Cork where she has been helping out with the vaccinating, grass meassuring and milking the cows during the school closur.e Photo: Denis Boyle

Learnign curve: Sadhbh O'Connor, a fifth year student at Bandon Grammar School, is being kept busy on the family farm in Upton, Co Cork where she has been helping out with the vaccinating, grass meassuring and milking the cows during the school closur.e Photo: Denis Boyle

/

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

Lambing is nearly complete for 2020 with only about 10 ewes left to deliver.

These ewes are now outside and are checked on a couple of times a day just to make sure everything is alright.

Looking back on the past few months of lambing, I am quite happy with how it went this year. There weren't any problems above and beyond the normal cycle of lambing and farming sheep.

Perhaps we could have wished for better weather at the beginning of March, but this is forgotten now with the fantastic warm and dry spell we are having now. All of the ewes are off feed and have been for quite a few weeks. There were many batches of ewes that got no feeding once they left the shed. This applied where grass was in good supply.

Towards the end of lambing, I fed a few batches of younger ewes and ewe hoggets - especially ones with twins where grass was failing to grow due to the cold easterly breeze. This has cut down on the workload. Saying that, other jobs such as spreading fertiliser, moving ewes and lambs, fencing have taken priority.

Silage ground was taken up on April 10. I applied 22.7: 2.5: 5: 3 of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and sulphur and some straight nitrogen to this ground. All the silage ground was grazed quite tightly off by ewes and lambs during the spring.

I hope this will help to grow a leafy, thick crop of silage for cutting in the last days of May or early June. I found having good quality silage for the ewes this spring helped with body condition and subsequent milk supply. I was also able to reduce concentrate feeding.

I had planned to save this ground a bit sooner, but with the way the spring was with colder temperatures and little grass growing, I had no other choice.

Meanwhile, very few are of us are escaping the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

And while the farming community are somewhat accustomed to self-isolation, Covid-19 is having an effect on farming as much as any other industry in the country both financially and socially.

The closure of marts is affecting income and is a big blow to those who look forward to the social aspect of the marts. Looking forward it is difficult to predict what is going to happen.

Breeding sales

Many marts have adopted online sales which is very welcome, but it will be interesting to see how these will work when larger numbers of stock start to come out. Breeding sales of sheep could be affected too. I'm disappointed to see nearly all the agricultural shows cancelled, but there's no other choice.

We all have to pull together and make the best out of the situation we are in.

Back on my farm, the Blue Leicester lambs averaged a 330g daily growth the last time they were in for weighing. The best are growing at between 380g-420g/head/day. The majority of these weighed are lambs from first lambing ewe hoggets. I am happy with the way they are growing and I hope to have these ready for sales later this year.

Looking ahead, we will vaccinate all the lambs with Clostridial vaccine over the next week and they will get a booster in four weeks.

We are keeping a close eye for cases of mastitis among the ewes with their lambs. We usually get a few cases, but it's so far so good this year.

We will keep an eye on the forecast for Nematodirus in early May. The older lambs will be dosed with a (white wormer) in early May followed by the other lambs. And I intend to take some dung samples this year to be more accurate with my dosing.


Tom Staunton farms in Tourmakeady, Co Mayo

Indo Farming