Updates April 2014
BETTER Farm Update: Ciaran Lynch, Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Athenry, Co Galway
Poor grass growth has led to a difficult start on many farms with any grass reserves diminishing quickly. A number of the farms have begun to supplement ewes that are grazing barer pasture. Ewes are being kept in smaller batches with grouping postponed to facilitate feeding ewes.
For the new farms soil samples were collected in January. The results indicated were a number of areas where soil fertility was poor. From the soil analysis each of the advisors drew up a plan fertilizer application. The farmers targeted these areas with a compound on first application. Despite the poor grass growth it is clear on the farms from recent years that the fields with higher sol fertility of those reseeded recently still have better grass covers and will be the first to respond to improvements in growing conditions.
Despite the difficult conditions in late march lamb performance has remained high for early lamb flocks with one batch recently weighed performing at 350 g/day since weaning. The flocks have begun to draft lambs, as these are high input and hence high cost systems lambs will be drafted on a regular basis. The target drafting weight on these flocks is currently 40 kg.