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Update December 2018 - January 2019

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

Drafting of lambs is almost complete with between 91 to 97% of lambs finished from each of the groups up to mid-December. Any remaining lambs in groups (15-20%) were housed in mid-November and built up to a diet of approximately 1 kg of concentrate per head/day and access to high quality baled silage (~75DMD). Lambs have performed well with growth rates of 250g/day recorded once settled into the shed and the new diet. Analysis on the full years lamb performance is on-going but preliminary analysis shows that differences in performance between the grass and grass-clover treatments this year will be smaller as mentioned in our last update. This was to be expected given the circumstances with regard to grass availability during the summer and the need to supplement all lambs for prolonged periods. Rams were removed from ewes in late November after a 5 week breeding period. Very few repeats were observed and we will scan in early January. Housing of ewes commenced in early December with all groups housed before Christmas. The covers of grass built up in the autumn were lower than other years due to the need to cut late silage to build fodder reserves although excellent grazing conditions throughout the autumn meant utilisation was excellent. Sward DM production measured up to the end of November shows the grass only (145kgN) treatments grew 12.3 tons DM/ha, the grass-clover (145kg N/ha) grew 11.8 tons DM/ha and the grass-clover (90 kg N/ha) grew 12.2 tons DM/ha.  Total DM yield will be down about 1.5 tons DM/ha for all treatments this year but on a positive note the low N clover treatment is still able to match the high N grass and grass-clover treatments.