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Olivia Hynes July/August Update 2023



  • Culling of problem ewes and rams
  • Body condition scoring is essential
  • The Ram NCT
  • Drafting lambs for sale


  • Grass remains tight enough
  • Blanket spreading of Urea
  • Need to start building grass for the ewes
  • Waiting for the fencing contractor


As Olivia lambs at the very start of February , the ram will be let out earlier than on the majority of sheep farmers . Ensuring that the ewe flock is in the best possible condition at mating  starts now on the farm . As ewes have been dried off since  June , attention will now be on culling ewes and rams for a variety of reasons .  Culling is the first step in preparation for the next breeding season !

All ewes regardless of age, will be  assessed for suitability as breeding ewes to reduce problems and improve prolificy in the next lambing season. Olivia will mark any ewe that gave trouble at any stage in rearing its lamb and it will be pulled out from the main flock after weaning and culled. There are no second chances on this farm.  There are a variety of reasons  why a ewe will be culled namely;

  • Feet/Lameness
  • Poor milk
  • mismothering
  • teeth condition
  • age
  • diseases
  • body condition score
  • udder
  • reproduction problems

Picture 1: Problem ewes are marked 

Body Condition Scoring - Time well spent 

  • The ewe flock will be checked/handled and body condition scored
  • Olivia likes to have the ewes in a body condition score of at least 3.5 prior to mating: ewes should be fit not fat.
  • A ewe with a body condition score of 2.5 will take approximately 10 weeks of good quality grass to get to a body condition of 3.5 so it is a job for July
  • Olivia will make a separate group of the ewes than need to gain condition .These will  be prioritised over the summer to give them a chance to improve.


As Olivia culls relatively hard , there needs to be plenty of replacements coming through. 60-70 of the best ewe lambs have been identified now and are in a separate group. These are mainly Suffolk x . Later on as they progress , Olivia will further select  the best 50-55 out of that group and this is the group kept as hoggets going forward. The 20 or so that don’t make the final selection are sold in the mart where there is generally very good demand.


Rams also need to be examined and assessed before breeding season. The ram is half the flock so it is very important that he is fit and has no problems.

Olivia will make sure that each ram is walking correct, the reproductive organs are checked and old rams will also be culled. Olivia  will use  plenty of rams ie 7 to 8 to make sure all will be mated in 4 weeks . Sperm production in the ram takes five to seven weeks. This means that a ram mating a ewe  in early  September will have started producing that sperm at the now . Anything that interferes with sperm production in the run up to mating can have disastrous effects on the ram’s ability to impregnate ewes. Any infection that increases the ram’s body temperature by as little as 0.5˚C for 24 hours can render a ram temporarily infertile.

Any ram to be purchased will be done  as soon as the sales start - well in advance of the mating season .


Drafting lambs for Sale

Regarding drafting lambs for sale, Olivia aim is to  achieve the  maximum value for every lamb produced and presented for sale or slaughter. The weight at which lambs are drafted for slaughter will depend on market specification, particularly the maximum carcass weight paid and kill out rate.

This will vary depending on age of lamb, breed, gender, and if lambs are meal fed or not. With this in mind Olivia ensures that the  lambs are healthy, free of disease and meet the desired conformation and weights as the market demands. At the moment , the target carcase weight is 19.5kgs so Olivia will handle and weigh the lambs on a weekly basis.


In the lead into July , grass remained  tight  enough on the farm due to the lack of rainfall. In particular, the average farms covers (AFC) in Kilcash are below the 500kgs/DM/ha . When grass  is this tight it is difficult to grow grass !  The grass situation at home in Jamestown is better – the AFC was 763kgs DM/ha starting in July.

However, with the return of the rain, Olivia has spread 20 units of Protected urea per acre. The silage ground is back in the rotation and will get slurry immediately at 200gals per acre using LESS. With the sale of lambs the grass demand will reduce slightly.

Olivia is expecting the fencing contractor in July to erect more fencing under Tams. Olivia has really focussed on improving the grazing infrastructure since joining the programme but there is always more to do…