Tommy Boland: 90pc of ewes lambed within an eight-day period on UCD's farm
Lambing at Lyons is all but finished at this stage, with the first round of lambing resulting in over 90pc of ewes lambed within an eight-day period, with only around 7pc of the flock lambing as repeats.
This is a somewhat more compact lambing than in previous years at Lyons, and this did present some challenges.
These challenges arose from the demand on individual lambing pens. Over one 24-hour period alone, 70 ewes gave birth to three or more lambs, essentially tying up many of our lambing pens. This issue will be addressed by the purchase of more penning for the 2020 lambing season.
Workload was heightened during lambing this year also, due to the fact Jonathan Higgins had 90 twin-bearing ewes on an experiment where all ewes were milked one, 10 and 18 hours after lambing and the colostrum was fed back to their lambs.
While we still have a lot of analysis to do on this data, there are a few clear signals coming from it.
The volume of colostrum produced by ewes varies greatly, even when there are no obvious differences in ewe condition. This does however reflect feed intake, somewhat, and this is another area where there is a lot of animal-to-animal variation.
Despite all ewes being offered 100pc of their requirements, there was a huge variation in the quantity of feed, and as a result, the quantity of energy consumed (as a percentage of a ewe's actual requirements).
This meant that some ewes required much less feed than we 'predicted' to produce good lambs and lots of colostrum; some ewes required much more, and some ewes, despite consuming adequate feed and energy, were not able to produce good-size lambs or adequate quantities of colostrum.