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Thursday 18 October 2018

'We are on target for a first cut of silage in early June'

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
The first cut silage could be near

Tom Staunton

The upswing in the weather has allowed ground to dry up and grass is growing that bit better than before. That said, it has a lot of growing to do to catch up on this stage last year.

The silage ground that I have saved is coming along nicely. I was quite tempted to let some sheep into it about two to three weeks ago when the weather didn't look like improving and grass supplies were much tighter.

It was probably a wiser move to hold out and I'm hopeful silage will be ready to cut in early June. This will be on a par with the same time last year. I hope to get a few extra bales in this year, just to have as an insurance policy against bad weather.

With the temperatures rising it will soon be time to start thinking about treating the lambs for blowfly strike.

I usually use a pour-on on the lambs. There are many different products and I make my decision based on length of coverage and the withdrawal date for meat.

Any stronger lambs that might come fit for slaughter will be treated with a short withdrawal product and the lighter lambs will get the longer lasting product for good coverage over the summer months.

There's nothing worse than having to do them a second time after finding a few lambs with maggots.

The breeding sheep for sale and keeping on the farm all get dipped later in the summer.

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I have also treated lambs on rough ground for ticks as this can be a problem on some of the land. Ticks will also become more prevalent with the weather heating up.

The ground beside the silage fields has been sprayed off for sowing Typhon. It's only in the last week that the weather has allowed this to be done and I don't plan on deep ploughing it.

Discing and power- harrowing should be more than good enough. I hope to get it sown in the next few weeks and get a good crop to help fatten the wether lambs.

It also allows me to under-sow with a new grass variety which will give a better quality sward in years to come.

The plan is to have the Typhon and after-grass ready to coincide with weaning, and I will fatten all the wether lambs off this to French weight.

The Mule wether and Lanark wether lambs fatten quite well and come into good weights.

It is important when breeding replacements to keep good conformation in the breeding stock as the wether lambs make up half of the lambs born.

I usually end up with more wether lambs when hoping for ewe lambs.

One of the Sheep Welfare Scheme options I chose was to supplement with minerals and vitamins pre-weaning.

All lambs got a chelated mineral and vitamin drench along with a white wormer for nematodirus and other stomach worms last week.

Supplementing in time to prevent deficiencies keeps the lambs thriving and also means they can be sold quicker at a lower cost.

Since drenching, some of the lambs that had scoured have dried up and seem to thriving that bit better.

Any ewe that was struggling after the hard spring got a mineral drench when we were dosing the lambs.

Our farm is deficient in nearly all trace elements and we get a good response from supplementation.

Over the next few weeks I hope to get the hoggets and rams shorn and also get some of the weeds sprayed.

Some thistles and nettles, docks and rushes are starting to peak their heads up. I want to stop them in their tracks.

Tom Staunton farms in Tourmakeady, Co Mayo

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