For­age anal­y­sis es­sen­tial when plan­ning flock win­ter feed­ing pro­grammes

Irish Independent - Farming - - FARM OUR - TOMMY BOLAND

WITH silage mak­ing only re­cently com­pleted on many farms it feels a bit weird to be dis­cussing silage qual­ity as we plan our win­ter feed­ing pro­grammes at Lyons.

It still strikes me as odd that many farm­ers don’t test silage/for­age qual­ity.

Granted there are is­sues with vari­a­tion when deal­ing with bales, but some in­di­ca­tion of the qual­ity of feed on of­fer is very ben­e­fi­cial in plan­ning win­ter feed­ing pro­grammes.

We have some of the anal­y­sis back for first and sec­ond cut silage at Lyons. Qual­ity is very good with crude pro­tein con­tents rang­ing from 14.2pc to 17.4pc and metabolis­able en­ergy val­ues of 10.7 to 11.2 Me­ga­joules of metabolis­able en­ergy.

This re­flects a pro­gramme of im­prov­ing silage qual­ity on the farm over the past five years. The bat­tle now com­mences to see who will get ac­cess to the best qual­ity silage for the win­ter feed­ing pro­gramme.

In the ab­sence of con­duct­ing a for­age anal­y­sis, peo­ple tend to over-es­ti­mate the qual­ity of for­age on of­fer.

This in turn can lead to un­der­feed­ing in late preg­nancy, set­ting the ewe and lamb up for a dif­fi­cult sea­son.

The red­start had a pre-graz­ing yield of 4.1 tonnes of dry mat­ter per ha with a dry mat­ter con­tent of we have tillage ground also, and while we recog­nise it is not an op­tion for ev­ery farmer, it has a role to play in cer­tain sit­u­a­tions.

Last week saw 90 lambs slaugh­tered. This fol­lowed on from 44 lambs the pre­vi­ous week that were se­lected at an av­er­age weight of 46kg, achieved an av­er­age car­cass weight of 21.7kg and re­turned €102.

Lambs graz­ing the red­start are achiev­ing an av­er­age daily live weight gain of 270 grams.

Ewes were sponged on Oc­to­ber 1 and rams will be joined on Oc­to­ber 15. This year we will mate all ewes and ewe lambs on the same day.

Su­per­vi­sion

In pre­vi­ous years we have mated the ewe lambs two days ear­lier than the ewes with a view to hav­ing ewe lambs lambed prior to the ewes start­ing to lamb.

This year as we have only 55 ewe lambs out of a to­tal flock of 360, we de­cided to mate all an­i­mals on the same day to shorten the pe­riod of time we of­fer 24 hour su­per­vi­sion.

Ewes were shorn on Septem­ber 6 this year. All ewes will have their live weight and body con­di­tion score recorded at mat­ing.

Jonathan Hig­gins has also joined the sheep re­search team at Lyons as a PhD stu­dent funded by the Ir­ish Re­search Coun­cil.

Jonathan’s PhD will look at max­imis­ing the con­tri­bu­tion of for­ages to the diet in mid-sea­son lamb­ing sys­tems, in ad­di­tion to com­par­ing the per­for­mance of the three ma­ter­nal strains in the Lyons flock.

WE EX­PECT THE LAMBS TURNED ONTO THE REDTART TO REACH THEIR TAR­GET SLAUGH­TER WEIGHT IN FOUR WEEKS

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