Tom Staunton: Wet weather woes mean we are facing into a challenging winter

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
Getty Images

Tom Staunton

The wet weather woes continue in the west. We have had a much higher than average rainfall since August - this is having an effect as it is making some jobs much more difficult to do.

The sheds have been cleaned in preparation for the winter. The manure was bound for rougher ground where scrub was cleaned off, but we had to change plans. This ground was a bit soft with the rain so it had to be spread on drier ground.

I find that any ground that gets manure grows great grass for years afterwards. The straw also ads structure to the soil and it is noticeable that there is an increase in the earthworms where it is spread.

The sheds will be power washed over the coming weeks and disinfected. I am still undecided on whether to put the remaining lambs inside for finishing or continue to feed them outdoors.

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They are currently thriving well on a high maize creep at grass. The level of creep has been increased gradually over the past few weeks.

The Lanark-type Blackface lambs have started to get creep in troughs, these will more than likely be put inside for finishing as the horns prevent them eating from the creep feeders. It will be great to graze out the fields they are in and begin to start saving some for ewes and lambs in the spring time.

The most sheltered fields that are close to the sheds will be saved first. Grass is plentiful at the moment and ewes are in good condition. Ewes should have plenty to eat until it is time to put them inside in the early New Year.

All the rams have been let out at this stage and are getting busier as the days go by.

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I keep a good check on the rams to ensure that they are working well, that they are not running a temperature with a cold or chill. It is important that their feet are kept right throughout this period. I raddle the rams starting with yellow and changing to a darker colour every two weeks. I find its good practice while topping up the raddle to feed the Bluefaced Leicester ram lambs some meal while I freshen up the raddle. This works well for me as I don't use the raddle crayons.

It allows me to check the ram and it also helps keep the rams energy levels up; which is needed, especially if there are many ewes for tipping.

The majority of the Pedigree Bluefaced Leicester ewes have been tipped by now. There weren't too many repeats and hopefully, there won't be any more. I'm looking forward to the springtime when these begin to lamb.

We bought two new stock ram lambs along with Joe Scahill (Faughburren flock) to mate with the ewe hoggets that we have out of the £5,500 Mullaghwee ram. These were purchased from the Holmview Flock at the sale in Ballymena.

Vitamins

The ewe lambs replacements are thriving well and got their booster vaccine for clostridial diseases and a separate vaccine for pneumonia prevention. These lambs will be all out-wintered and hopefully without any supplementation like last year.

They will all get a mineral and vitamin supplements in the next month and a fluke dose. I have decided not to mate any of the ewe lambs this year as I felt it dragged out the lambing season a bit much last year.

Our Bluefaced Leicester group had its inaugural sale of Pedigree Bluefaced Leicesters in Carrick-on-Shannon. This was the group's second sale of the year after the Premier sale in Ballinrobe.

The sale went off well with breeders travelling from Mayo, Donegal, Sligo, Galway, Roscommon, Louth, Meath, Kildare, Wexford and a few more counties.

I found that in a challenging year that the demand for breeding sheep remained good, while perhaps factory lambs have struggled at times.

Tom Staunton farms in Tourmakeady, Co Mayo

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