We need a rise in temperatures
The grass-seed sown on June 10 is now only starting to grow. What we need now is a rise in temperatures as we have got enough of the rain.
These fields will not be fit to graze at weaning time, so the lambs will be put onto fields that have been grazed out well by the ewes and now have a good cover of leafy grass.
The most important thing for the lambs is to have a good worm-control programme in place. It's vital to know that the dose you are using is working and that you don't have a worm-resistance problem.
The way to find out is to take individual dung samples from 20 lambs in a group. Dose the lambs, then have the dung samples counted for worm eggs -- this can be done at your local veterinary laboratory. After 10 days repeat dung samples from the same 20 lambs and compare the readings.
If the worm count is not reduced or has increased, then the product you are using is not working. So you must move onto another product.
On our farm, four years ago, this dung sampling approach showed us we were 60pc resistant to the 'white drenches' and 25pc to the Levamisole.
So now we use a Levamisole-type drench first to cover nematodirus and then go in with an ivermectin-type dose (Cydectin) when the lambs are about 10 weeks old.
Another important thing to remember is to weigh the lambs before dosing -- not all of them but a few of the best lambs in the group.
Then dose the group based on their weight. This will make sure you are not underdosing the lambs and giving worms the chance to become resistant to the drench.
It is also very important to make sure your dosing gun is working correctly. No point in knowing what to give them and having it left in the container when you are finished. Our lambs are also due to be weighed for the second time next week. They will all be back-fat scanned on the same day. This information will be used by ICBF to compare the progeny from the rams we have used.
They will also draw up a list of ewe lambs, from which we will pick the lambs to keep for next year.
These ewe-lambs will be made up of 20 from each ram. So we will have a mix of breeds -- Charolais, Belclare, Suffolk, Vendeen and Texel.
This year the plan is to put them all to the ram. However, getting them to lamb in a three-week interval can be hard work. So next year we are hoping to sponge them in two groups over two weeks so they will not be lambing over too long a period.
At weaning, we will give all the lambs a trace element bolus consisting of copper, cobalt, iodine and selenium.
Last year, we gave half the lambs these boluses and got a better growth rate after weaning and, more importantly, better kill out, especially from the lambs on forage crops.
The lambs will all get their second injection of Covexin 10 at the same time. Due to the cold weather for the last month there has been no need for any fly treatment on either ewes or lambs. But with temperatures increasing this weekend our next job will be to get Clik on everything, except for those ewes marked for culling which will be sold immediately after weaning.
These ewes are marked at lambing, and are mostly those with one teat or problems at lambing.
When the lambs were being dosed the first time, these ewes were permanently marked by using a tag to make sure they do not appear next year at lambing. With a good price for cull ewes these should be moved on.
We took the dry hogget-ewes to the national sheep shearing competition.
It was well organised on a very good site at Kilkenny Mart and well supported on the Sunday especially.
We got the same hoggets back and we were paid for the wool, so everyone should be happy.
All we need now is a change in the weather to get a fine week to finish up silage and maybe get a chance to save some hay.
John Large farms at Gortnahoe, Thurles, Co Tipperary
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