Now for the burning question of what to do with ewe lambs. Do we breed them or leave them dry for the first year?
After a good year of grass-growth, our ewe lambs are strong, with a lot of them over 50kg.
A ewe lamb should be at least 60pc of her mature weight when joining the ram.
With our average mature weight being 75kg the ewe lambs are definitely heavy enough.
So our plan is to put half of them (80) to the ram.
Our aim is to try to get them to lamb compactly over a short lambing period. So 40 ewe lambs were sponged on Monday, October 13 and another 40 on Monday, October 20. Rams will be introduced on October 27 to the first lot, and the second lot one week later.
The first lot will coincide with ram-turnout to the repeat ewes. We do not intend to let rams back to any ewe lambs that repeat.
The reasons for sponging in two lots are, firstly. maybe we would have too many of them lambing together. Secondly, we don't have enough rams to allow 10 ewe lambs per mature ram. We will use all Charallois rams.
With the repeat ewes lambing at the same time we should be able to cross-foster some of the multiple births from the ewe lambs on to mature ewes. The objective being to try to let most of the ewe lambs rear one lamb only.
We are aiming for compact mating which should mean a short lambing spread. But we need to keep ewe lambs gaining weight throughout pregnancy.
This is a new venture for us and I will keep an ongoing update of the progress.
We have about 75pc of our ewe lambs sold with more going next week. Only a few small lambs are getting meal.
Now that the typhon is all nearly finished we will introduce meal to the most forward lambs to the get them away in early November.
The remainder will be removed from the grazing area and put on fodder rape which was sown in early September. This crop has grown very well and should be fit to graze by mid November.
It should finish off most of the remaining lambs, along with a small amount of meal. With the lamb kill to date running ahead of last year, we could see a price rise between now and Christmas.
Ewes have plenty of grass, the only problem is getting them to graze down paddocks so that we can close up for next spring. A few paddocks with high cover may have to be block grazed.
We will leave these until some of the higher covers have been grazed out well because we need somewhere to spread farmyard manure before the end of the month.
John Large is a sheep farmer from Co Tipperary