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Updates November 2014

Ciaran Lynch, Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Athenry, Co Galway

Grass supplies in late October were variable on the farms, with a number of lower stocked farms having difficult grazing out paddocks in a timely fashion. However the focus on all these is to have those closest to the yard that will be used first grazed out early to ensure a sufficient rest period.

Mid-season flocks

On all the flocks ewe condition was good at joining. The farmers are reporting a high percentage of ewes mated during the first 2 weeks with few repeats at this stage. As with previous year a number of farmers are joining ewe lambs. A summary of the average weight and range is presented in Table 1. Although the average weight is good for the flocks there is some variation, in the majority of cases the lightest 10 to 15 % will not be joined and allowed to run dry.

Table 1. Ewe lamb weight (kg) on BETTER farms

Average Weight 49.9 47.8 48.1 50.6 49.1
Range (min to max) 37.1 - 62.6 37.2 - 59.8 36.3 - 55.8 40.0 - 61.5 43.5 - 61.5

Early lamb flocks

For the 3 flocks with an early lamb completed scanning in October. The results are summarised in Table 2. The results are a mixed fortune for the 3 flocks involved. In all cases these ewes are being re exposed to rams now to pick up any potential repeats.

Table 2. Scanning results for the early lamb flocks 2013/14 season

Scanned litter size 1.92 2.06 1.81
Scanned pregnancy rate 80.8 90.0 53.6
Scanning rate 1.55 1.85 0.97
Number of service 1 2 1

Hill Flocks

The breeding season kicks off in November for the hill flocks. Ewe will be selected for individual rams prior to joining. The mating records will be recorded for each batch with an individual ram to provide parentage. The typical joining period with individual rams is 3 weeks after which ewes will be mob mated to minimise potential ram fertility issues. Any ewes over and above those that are needed for replacements will be mated to a terminal/maternal sire to produce crossbred lambs.