We'll sow 12ac of grass and Typhon this year
With grass finally starting to grow, we have fertilised about 30ac for silage. It got three bags of 27:2.5:5 pasture sward and should be cut in late June.
It is hard to believe we made 100 bales on May 26 last year. We spread one-and-a-half bags after grazing and from now on any paddocks that can be skipped over will get an extra bag and be cut for silage. With no fodder left, we will have to grow as much grass as possible from now on to ensure feed for next winter.
With lambs growing and starting to eat more grass our demand is increasing each week. So there will not be much extra grass available until after weaning. This year, we will sow 12ac of new grass, again mixed with 1.5kg/ac of Typhon. We will use this forage crop to finish lambs in the hope that it will free up more grass for cutting from the grazing area. We will also sow forage rape after spring barley to keep ewe lambs over the winter months.
We all know it will not be easy to gather enough feed this winter so every option must be looked at. We may even sell lambs at a lighter weight than other years.
The one good thing this year is that grass quality is excellent, so lambs should thrive well until weaning.
We are moving onto the next paddock every four days and our rotation is now 16 days. On a sheep farm there is very little poaching of the land and we are able to keep a big group of 200 ewes and lambs together.
This is a great way to lengthen the rotation and keep grass quality at its best. Too many small groups result in too long a stay in each paddock which affects re-growth and quality. They also take more time herding each day.
We weighed our lambs last week. Our average weight was back on last year by almost 2kg, with twins at 16.6kg and singles hitting 20.4kg.
There have been very few losses since they were let out of the shed. We dosed most of the lambs for nematodirus and coccidiosis as they were being weighed.
One lot was not dosed for coccidiosis and had to be brought back in a few days later for dosing to stop some of the lambs scouring. They have all dried up since. Now we must keep an eye out to make sure we have not dosed them too early for nematodirus.
The next time the lambs go through the handling unit we will dose with a mineral drench or give them a mineral bolus. They will also get their first injection of Heptavac P vaccine, with the second one following before weaning. We will take dung samples for worms and dose when the count goes over 350. It is not easy to work out a dosing system for worms when we have resistance to both the levamisole and benzimadazole type drench.
We can only use the ivermectin type products or the two new ones, Zolvix and Startect. Using a system where we only dose when necessary and not as a routine should help to keep what dosing options we have left working.
John Large is a sheep farmer from Co Tipperary. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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