Taking final pre-lambing measures

John Large

John Large

With lambing just a week from starting, all ewes to lamb first got their booster shot of Covexin 10 on February 15. This will provide antibodies for the lambs from the ewes' beastings. We also gave the ewes a mineral vitamin dose of Twin Plus.

The ewes are all being fed a mix of rolled barley, citrus pulp, soya bean meal and whole barley. The protein content has now been pushed up to 19pc. The triplets are on 1kg, twins on 0.75kg and singles on 0.3kg of meal. All are being fed twice a day, except for the singles who are just fed in the morning.

They are also eating two bales of hay a day. I give one morning and evening with the straw chopper. No silage was fed this year and we have a shed of hay on the out-farm which we have not started to use yet -- so next winter's fodder should not be a problem.

Our plan is to spray off a few fields next month so they can be reseeded early.

When you use hay (if it can be made), the two big differences from silage are dryer beds and fewer foot problems.

We cleaned out the sheds this week and put all the ewes through the footbath. Now we are putting up individual small pens for lambing. As always, we're trying to make life easier for ourselves.

We have some timber pens which were screwed or nailed together. This year we put brackets on them so they can pin together. It took a lot more work than we thought but hopefully it will be justified over the next few years. We spread most of the home farm on February 14 with 40 units of nitrogen.

This was urea and with the temperature so high and mild conditions since, we have a plentiful supply of grass. The out-farm, which is much later to start growing, this week got 1.5 bags of Pasture Sward.

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We scanned the ewe lambs early last month. From 148 to the ram, we have 57 with twins, 81 singles and 10 not in lamb. This gives us 1.3 lambs per ewe to the ram. The twins were picked off and are getting 0.3kg of meal outside.

They do not have much grass but they have good silage. These are bales we made from paddocks that were not needed for grazing last August. We got only four bales per acre, but if the quantity was small it was made up for in the quality.

There is no waste on any of the bales, the only problem is transporting them to the field and getting them into the feeder before they break up. The single hoggets are on grass only. This is an Italian ryegrass sward.

The first six-acre field was grazed from January 12 to February 1, with all 148 ewes. It is hard to believe but I will go back into this field again on March 3 and should get another two weeks with the 81 singles.

The field they are grazing now (also Italian ryegrass) is nearly too strong to graze. The 81 singles are getting a section each day which measures 50m by 20m. I do not think it would be possible to graze, if weather conditions were not so good. So all this winter growth is great, but you must be able to make use of the extra grass.

All we need now is ewes to start lambing, with plenty of milk, strong healthy lambs and, most importantly, weather, so they can go out quickly.

The latter I have no control over, but the rest I hope I have well covered.

John Large is a sheep farmer from Gortnahoe, Thurles, Co Tipperary. Email: johnslarge@live.com

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