Ready for lamb­ing but silage tests show that changes may be re­quired

Irish Independent - Farming - - Farm Management - TomS­taunton­isas­heep­farmer fromTour­makeady,CoMayo.

PREPA­RA­TION at the Mask View flock for lamb­ing is al­most com­plete. The lamb­ing sheds have been power washed, dis­in­fected with Sor­gene and the lamb­ing pens (5ft x 5ft) have been built.

In­frared lamps are now in place and ready for ac­tion. I de­cided to pur­chase an au­to­matic lamb feeder (Vo­lac Ewe 2) this year, which will help with the large amount of triplets that are ex­pected.

This will save time spent feed­ing pet lambs and I be­lieve it will give bet­ter thrive than bot­tle feed­ing lambs. I will still con­tinue to try and fos­ter some lambs onto ewes with sin­gle lambs and will have the au­to­matic feeder in re­serve.

The twin bear­ing ewes that are be­ing fed out and not due till March are now re­ceiv­ing 500g/hd/day. The sin­gle bear­ing ewes are get­ting feed buck­ets and will be­gin con­cen­trate feed­ing in the com­ing weeks.

The Blue­faced Le­ices­ter ewes are less than three weeks away from lamb­ing and are get­ting 1kg/hd/day with 10-15g of Lac­taid (sta­bilised yeast) and hay.

The em­bryo re­cip­i­ent ewes are now less than a week away from lamb­ing and I hope I have ev­ery­thing ready and in place for the com­ing sea­son.

The triplet bear­ing ewes have been housed and some sin­gle ewes have been housed also to al­low for adop­tions.

I have had my silage and grass an­a­lysed for feed value and for min­er­als. I was rel­a­tively happy with my silage re­sults con­sid­er­ing the sys­tem I have in place, but im­prove­ments can still be made. I have never placed much em­pha­sis on silage qual­ity as I usu­ally feed a high per­cent­age of con­cen­trates to ewes prior to lamb­ing and be­cause ewes are gen­er­ally lambed out­side.

Per­haps this is an area that I should in­ves­ti­gate as the cost of con­cen­trates con­trib­utes to a large por­tion of farm ex­pen­di­ture. Silage val­ues Dry mat­ter of 37pc Crude pro­tein 12pc pH 4.82 D value 67.2pc ME 10.8 Mj/Kg This re­sult is for big bale silage that was cut at the end of June. I com­pro­mised some qual­ity for bulk. I did not make much silage this year as I have re­duced cat­tle num­bers and I made hay in­stead.

Crude pro­tein level is av­er­age, the dry mat­ter per­cent­age is quite high. I be­lieve that this high level of dry mat­ter has re­sulted in a poor drop in pH to 4.82 with fer­men­ta­tion not com­pleted fully.

There is very lit­tle ev­i­dence of acids in the silage and, in par­tic­u­lar, there is a very low level of lac­tic acid. I would pre­fer to see a pH closer to 4.0 and a higher level of lac­tic acid.

The sug­ars in the silage are quite high, an in­di­ca­tor that lit­tle su­gar was used to make lac­tic acid and there­fore re­duced fer­men­ta­tion has taken place.

Some of th­ese sug­ars should be con­verted into lac­tic acid to en­sure a more sta­ble and more ef­fi­cient silage mak­ing process. Di­gestibil­ity, or D-value, at 67.2pc was com­pro­mised for bulk.

To cal­cu­late your ME en­ergy value, mul­ti­ply this D-value by 0.16. If I de­cide to use more silage to re­place con­cen­trate feed­ing, I will have to cut my silage ear­lier to pro­duce a bet­ter qual­ity prod­uct.

I have a small amount of mould present on bales which could po­ten­tially be disease caus­ing. It is some­thing I will have to in­ves­ti­gate and see if it will suit my sys­tem or if high con­cen­trate feed­ing suits me bet­ter.

If I change sys­tems to re­duce con­cen­trates and use more silage I will have to make a bet­ter qual­ity prod­uct and per­haps use an in­oc­u­lant to im­prove D-value, by pre­serv­ing the silage much bet­ter and pre­vent­ing clostridia and mould growth.

The grass min­eral re­sults showed that grass has good lev­els of N, P and K but had de­fi­cien­cies in all trace el­e­ments, some more than oth­ers.

This l ow level of trace el­e­ments was ac­com­pa­nied by a very high level of molyb­de­num which is known for lock­ing up cop­per and re­duc­ing the avail­abil­ity of the min­eral.

I was aware that there were trace min­eral de­fi­cien­cies on the farm from years of ex­pe­ri­ence, but this anal­y­sis has re­in­forced what the main prob­lems are.

I think it is im­por­tant to check what de­fi­cien­cies are present on farm, so ef­fec­tive treat­ment and preven­tions can be put in place.

Time and money can be wasted us­ing min­er­als and worm drenches that are not needed on the farm and there­fore test­ing to iden­tify what is needed is the most ef­fi­cient way to coun­ter­act de­fi­cien­cies and to tar­get spe­cific worm species.

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