Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Thursday 21 March 2019

Waiting for scanning time to deliver the answers on breeding season

sheep and lamb
sheep and lamb
John Large

John Large

We have the rams out with the ewes covering any repeats. The number does not seem very high with only a scattering of red and blue marked ewes in each group.

We would hope to get a conception rate after AI somewhere near 80pc. The rams will be let run with the ewes until December 1 and then removed so no lambs will be born after the end of April next year.

All ewes are still on grass, even with the change to more rain, we have enough grass until well into December.

Some ewes will go onto fodder-beet tops if weather conditions improve next week.

As mentioned in my last article, we sponged 80 of our strongest ewe-lambs to see if we could get most of them to lamb compactly over two weeks.

The process so far has gone well with no problems on either sponge insertion or sponge removal days.

We used no PMSG, with none needed to bring ewe-lambs in heat because now is their natural breeding season.

The PMSG would also increase litter size which we do not really want. The rams were introduced 44 hours after sponge removal.

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Two Charollais rams were let off with 20 ewe-lambs in each group. We changed the rams around after four hours and left them with each group for two days. Out of the 80 ewe-lambs, 77 of them were marked by the rams.

So now we have to wait and see how many of them hold in-lamb as we do not intend letting any rams back to pick up repeats.

We will have to wait until scanning time for our answers. All the ewe-lambs are now back in the one group and will be left together until after scanning when those in-lamb will be picked off and given some meal before lambing.

With the change in weather and ground conditions getting softer we will house most of the cattle this week. The cows and calves will be first in as they seem to be walking on more grass than they are eating.

We divide the fields into sections giving them enough for two days at a time. However, this does not seem to be keeping them happy now.

The sheep will hopefully get more value from what grass is left and do less damage when grazing it off. We closed up some fields that will be grazed first in spring. These either got a good covering of cattle slurry or farmyard manure at closing.

The growth has been good, especially after the slurry. One could be tempted to give these fields a quick graze off in December, but don't go near them - this grass is for next spring when it will be worth more for ewes with lambs.

We will close off fields as they are grazed out from now on. The drier ones will get slurry in late January, weather permitting.

I am pleased to see a return to one of our local radio stations (KCLR) of the very popular Farm Show programme hosted by Matt O'Keeffe.

We live in a rural area, with agriculture providing not only work for those involved directly in farming but for the wider community providing services to the agricultural sector.

We are entitled to one hour, at least once per week, of well presented information that relates to our business and community. It also gives us a local platform to express our opinions.

This community spirit has been very well shown by the recent beef price demonstration by IFA where each branch was represented at their local meat factory.

I do not know what the outcome will be but it is hugely important to stand together for the good of all. So to Matt and the Farm Show team, best of luck in the future and long may you continue.

John Large is a drystock farmer from Gortnahoe, Thurles, Tipperary

Email: jlarge@independent.ie

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