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Update April - May 2019

Philip Creighton, Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Teagasc Athenry, Co Galway.

Lambing commenced on March 4th and finished on April 9th. Mean lambing date for 2018 was March 14th. Approximately 90% of the flocks lambed over the first 17 days. Birth weights for singles, twins and triplets averaged 5.8, 4.9 and 4.0kg respectively. Lamb mortality levels averaged 10% for the period birth to 1 week old. Lambing assistance was recorded with 31% of ewes requiring some level of assistance which is up about 10% up on normal levels, although about half of this was very minor. We had a higher than normal amount of malpresented births which accounted for 60% of assisted births. 18% of lambs required help to suck or were fed additional artificial milk after birth, mainly triplets. Average ewe BCS going out to grass was 3.2. Weather conditions were very challenging at times and we did have to hold ewes and lambs in longer than normal with some housed for up to a week post lambing. In total contrast to last spring grass growth rates have been very strong during March and early April averaged ~40kg grass DM/ha/day. As a result we have had very strong grass covers and made the decision to skip over the last 20% of each farmlet which was closed for silage in mid-April in order to start the second rotation on time. This area was grazed out tight in December so quality shouldn’t be impacted. Paddocks were subdivided once lambs reached two weeks of age and we also increased our post grazing height from 3.5cm to 4.0cm to help deal with the heavier than normal grass covers. To date a total of 57kg of N has been applied per ha (46 units/ac) in Mid-February and Early April. Preliminary analysis of lamb performance to 5 weeks of age show average daily gains of 270g (13 ewe/ha SR) to 280g (11 ewe/ha SR) /hd/day. Ewe BCS has also reduced to average 2.9.