It’s vi­tal to keep on top of lame­ness in this weather

Irish Independent - Farming - - OUR FARM - Tommy Boland

Grass growth rate at UCD Lyons farm over the past week has ranged from 60kg to 86kg of DM per ha per day. This vari­a­tion in growth rate re­lates to dif­fer­ences in fer­tiliser ap­pli­ca­tion rates and lo­ca­tion on the farm.

Any rain­fall we missed out on in April and May, we have made up for in June and July. Rain­fall for June was 40pc above av­er­age and for July it was 100pc above av­er­age, up to July 29.

How­ever, rain­fall pat­terns have al­lowed for sur­plus pad­docks to be re­moved for silage and for 4ha of multi-species swards to be es­tab­lished on the sheep-graz­ing plat­form at Lyons.

Lambs are be­ing drafted on a fort­nightly ba­sis, and they are foot-bathed and cobalt-drenched on each pass through the han­dling unit. With the wet con­di­tions it is im­por­tant to keep on top of any lame­ness is­sues.

Twenty lambs were slaugh­tered on July 23, re­turn­ing an av­er­age car­cass weight of 21.49kg and a gross price of €115.92. There is another load of lambs for slaugh­ter this week.

Lambs re­ceived a drench last week for stom­ach worms based on the re­sults of fae­cal egg count­ing.

We have 120 lambs above 39kg graz­ing Red­start on the front of the hill. This crop was es­tab­lished in April and be­gan graz­ing in early June. It is grazed in a ro­ta­tional man­ner, al­low­ing for re­cov­ery of the crop after each graz­ing.

There are an ad­di­tional 30 light lambs graz­ing another Red­start block which was es­tab­lished as part of a re­search trial, but these plans had to be changed as a re­sult of Covid-19.

Ewes for culling have now been se­lected: these in­clude those that had is­sues at lamb­ing time, such as pro­lapse or se­vere mis-moth­er­ing is­sues; those that suf­fered mas­ti­tis in lac­ta­tion; and those that have other is­sues with their ud­der.

Ud­der ex­am­i­na­tion

These lat­ter is­sues were picked up when ewes were ex­am­ined four weeks after wean­ing. Re­search from Anne Ri­dler in Massey Univer­sity in New Zealand shows that by de­lay­ing ud­der ex­am­i­na­tion un­til four weeks after wean­ing, the po­ten­tial to pick up ud­der prob­lems is in­creased two-fold.

We have bought most of our re­place­ment fe­males, and they are un­der­go­ing their quar­an­tine pe­riod, with the re­main­ing fe­male re­place­ments due to be pur­chased in the com­ing weeks.

With the pur­chase of re­place­ment fe­males, all our breed­ing stock are en­rolled on a toxo and endo vac­ci­na­tion pro­gramme. They re­ceive quar­an­tine drenches to help re­duce the risk of in­tro­duc­ing an­thelmintic re­sis­tant par­a­sites. In ad­di­tion, foot con­di­tions are mon­i­tored for a min­i­mum of six weeks be­fore join­ing the main flock. While this may sound ex­ces­sive to some, the risk and work­loads in­volved if we do in­tro­duce any of the prob­lems listed is much greater than the time and ef­fort re­quired for quar­an­tine.

The ram team will not be added to this year following an in­ten­sive pe­riod of pur­chas­ing over the last three years.

The fo­cus now is on pre­par­ing the ewes for breed­ing, which is ap­prox­i­mately 10 weeks away. Our tar­get is to have the ewe flock at an av­er­age body con­di­tion score of 3.5 at mat­ing, with the min­i­mum num­ber of ewes be­low a body con­di­tion score of 3 at mat­ing.

Lift­ing the ewes in poor body con­di­tion up to the av­er­age of the flock will have big im­pacts on flock performanc­e.

Com­ing up to mat­ing, the two main ben­e­fits wit­nessed are an in­crease in lit­ter size and a re­duc­tion in the lamb­ing spread. It will take be­tween eight and 10 weeks of good graz­ing to al­low ewes to gain one full body con­di­tion score, which equates to ap­prox­i­mately 12kg of liveweight for a stan­dard low­land ewe in Ire­land. So now is the time to be as­sess­ing flock body con­di­tion and im­ple­ment­ing plans to im­prove it where ewes are at a score of 2.5 or lower.

Sim­ply look­ing at the an­i­mals will not suf­fice.

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