We will be using the ram effect for compact lambing season

All of the replacement ewe lambs will be out-wintered.
All of the replacement ewe lambs will be out-wintered.

Tom Staunton

The recent improvement in weather has allowed some hedge cutting and cleaning of drains to be completed on our farm ahead of the winter.

This will help land stay drier and also prevent any sheep getting caught up in open drains.

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Grass supplies are plentiful at the moment and should give the ewes a welcome boost pre-breeding and hopefully help prolong the grazing season.

All of the replacement ewe lambs will be out-wintered.

Last winter they didn't receive any supplementary feeding. This is the plan again this year, but I have never seen any two years the same.

If weather is difficult I might supplement with feed buckets and some hay.

They have been bunched together, dipped and dosed and additional dosing will be given when required against fluke and worms over the autumn and winter. All the flock will get mineral supplementation over the next month.

The land that they are on is deficient in all trace elements and there is always a good response when they are supplemented with minerals and vitamins.

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The remaining wether lambs have been split in two groups - more forward lambs and longer keep lambs. They are currently on good leafy grass and the more forward lambs will be meal-fed in a few weeks' time to push them on for finishing.

The lighter lambs won't get feeding for another month to six weeks as grass is plentiful. They should have more of a frame grown by then and meal will be gradually introduced to them. Weather depending, they will be put indoors for finishing. This worked well for me last year.

The breeding sales to date have been lively, with quality in demand. Customers are being more selective on the replacement ewes/lambs and rams that they are buying. Demand has been strong for breeding sheep.

The Bluefaced Leicester and West of Ireland Lanark sales went off well on September 14 in Ballinrobe.

There was good demand for Lanark rams and females (hoggets and lambs).

The rams also sold well, with a top of €2,300 for a Lanark hogget ram and a top of €950 for a Lanark ram lamb. Customers travelled a considerable distance to the sales with farmers from, Waterford, Donegal, Kerry, Wicklow, Cavan, Cork, Tipperary, Kildare making the journey.

There is a growing demand for the breed with many using the ewes for breeding mules and lowland replacements.

The rams are being used on many hill breeds and help improve carcass quality.

Half of the last batch of Lanark ram lambs that I sold for slaughter, graded U, which is a great result from any hill breed.

The Bluefaced Leicester trade was strong with many farmers stocking up on rams for breeding mules after successful mule sales all over the country.

We were delighted to win Champion and Reserve Champion with a ram lamb and hogget ram. I wish all customers the very best of luck with their new purchases.

The South of Ireland Bluefaced Leicester Club will host a sale of Bluefaced Leicester rams at the Showgrounds in Carrick-on-Shannon on October 5. This is an inaugural sale of rams from the breed in Carrick-on-Shannon.

Preparation for breeding is well underway with ewes dosed, dipped and at grass. I plan to use the ram effect this year to help compact lambing. The ram will be let out 14 days in advance of the breeding season to help ewes begin cycling. He will be left with them for a day and then removed again. Two to three weeks later the majority of ewes will show their first normal heat. I will try it on a few batches of ewes and see what the results will be.

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