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Updates March 2014

BETTER Farm Update: Ciaran Lynch, AGRIC, Athenry

Hill Flocks

Scanning for the 3 hill flocks in the programme was completed during February, the results are summarised in Table 1. Scan results were quite good for the flocks with a slight improvement by comparison to previous seasons. Post scanning the flocks split their ewe on the basis of litter size with twin bearing ewes drafted onto the lowland areas. The wet conditions has had its toll on ewes in these the hill flocks. At scanning it was notable that there was a larger proportion of ewes that in poorer condition. To avoid problems at lambing these will need to be drafted onto the enclosed ground and managed with the twin bearing ewes as they will require additional supplementation pre lambing.

Table 1. Scanning results for the Hill Flocks

 D McLaughlinC O'DonnellJ Lally
Scanned litter size 1.42 1.25 1.38
Scanned pregnancy rate 92.5 97.9 97
Scanning rate 1.31 1.22 1.34


Early lamb flocks

For the 3 lowland flocks that run an early lamb system January and February proved difficult, 2 of the flocks in Louth and Wexford managed to graze ewes outdoors on ground that was rested since late September, in both these cases ewes were supplemented with concentrate at a rate of approx. 0.5kg per head per day. For the flock in Kerry all ewes remained indoors as conditions were unsuitable for turnout. Ewes were split into those rearing singles and twins and received 1 and 1.5 kg of concentrate respectively with access to high quality hay on an ad-lib basis.

Lamb performance for the first 7 weeks on the flocks has been good despite the difficult condition with twin lambs growing at between 300 to 340 g/day during this period. Lamb weight at 7 weeks is summarised in Table 2. By this stage lambs were consuming between 350 and 600g of concentrate per day, with a noticeable increase in concentrate intake. All of the flocks are planning to wean lambs by early March.

Table 2. Lamb weight (kg) at 7 weeks on the Early Lamb flocks

 P. Kearney
T. O’Leary
J. Doyle
Singles 25.4 24.1 22.7
Twins 22 21.1 20.5
Triplets 15.4 19.1 18.5