Mea­sur­ing grass us­ing a sim­ple sys­tem brings ma­jor ad­van­tages

Irish Independent - Farming - - Front Page -

3.5cm be­hind so there is 2.1cm to eat. Each cen­time­trein height is 200kg/ ha, which gives 420kg/ha. Mul­ti­ply by the size of the pad­dock – 1.5ha gives 630kg of grass.

5.6cm - 3.5cm = 2.1cm x 200kg x 1.5ha = 630kg

Now al­low for what each ewe will need to eat. A ewe rear­ing twin lambs of four weeks old needs 3kg/day. So a group of 50 ewes will need 150kg/day. We di­vide our to­tal cover that will be eaten by our daily re­quire­ment (630kg 150kg) to give us 4.2 days grass for the 50 ewes and their lambs. I hope to man­age my grass by us­ing this method for this year. I will know when I have too much grass and I can take out pad­docks for baled silage, and when there’s not enough I can ad­just num­bers, spread fer­tiliser or wean the lambs ear­lier.

The ad­van­tage of mea­sur­ing grass for me is bet­ter qual­ity, less fer­tiliser, know­ing what grass is ahead of each group and al­low­ing me to sell lambs ear­lier and leave more grass for ewes later in the year. Lambs are do­ing very well on good grass and plenty of milk from their moth­ers. Our next big job will be giv­ing the lambs their first dose.

This will be a lev­amisole-type drench at about 5-6 weeks and it is for ne­ma­todirus worms. I hope that this dose will be given the same day as the lambs will be weighed. This 40-day weight is recorded us­ing an elec­tronic weigher with the elec­tronic tags in the lambs link­ing them to their birth weight and parent­age.

The hoggets and re­peat ewes are still lamb­ing, with about 20 of each left. We’ve had no prob­lems with the ewes but the oneyear-old hoggets again suf­fered be­cause no en­zootic abor­tion vac­cine has been avail­able. From 94 in-lamb at scan­ning, we hope 78 rear lambs. This is very dis­ap­point­ing to have 16 with­out lambs, and means a loss of po­ten­tial in­come in a year where lamb prices look good. If this vac­cine is un­avail­able next year, I def­i­nitely will not lamb ewe-lambs.

These all lambed out­side by day and in the shed at night. A small amount of meal was given when they came in­doors in the evening. This worked out very well to train them to come to the shed. We had some big sin­gle lambs that needed some as­sis­tance and a few trips to the vet.

The one good thing was that they all looked af­ter their lambs well, no run­ning away af­ter giv­ing birth or not let­ting the lambs suck. The twins are now on good grass get­ting 0.5kg of meal and the lambs will get creep from next week.

The sin­gles are on grass only. Both groups will be joined to­gether in an­other few weeks and all the lambs will get creep fed, with the lambs weaned at 12 weeks to give their moth­ers more time to put on weight be­fore mat­ing again. Just on a per­sonal note to some­one who taught me some­thing very im­por­tant at lamb­ing – pa­tience. Happy birth­day Mam.

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