Updates October 2014
Ciaran Lynch, Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Athenry, Co Galway
The growing conditions during September provided an ideal setup for the breeding season. With heavy covers (10 cm +) on many of the farms a number of the farmer are using temporary divisions to split paddocks to allow the flock to graze more efficiently. Both the Lowland and Hill farmers involved in the programme are reporting that ewe condition is good this season. All ewe and replacements in the flock will be weighed before joining and those that have failed to improve in condition will also be culled. The lowland farmers in the programme will conduct a final health check on the flock, in particular checking for any that presented with udder problems.
The farms are being used this season again for an on-going project to evaluate the new Terminal Production index. A number of high and low indexed rams were collected this year and will be used alongside an existing panel of rams on the farms. These rams will be used single sire mating groups to provide parentage for next years progeny to evaluate ram performance. Although this practice poses the risk of using a sub/infertile ram by using and changing the raddle colour on a weekly basis it will enable the farmers to identify any ram fertility issues at an early stage. Additionally it will allow the farmers to identify the predicted week of lambing which will inform the feeding regime for late pregnancy.