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April - May 2017

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

Lambing commenced on March 3rd and finished on April 18th. Mean lambing date for 2017 was March 14th. Approximately 85% of the flocks lambed over the first 19 days with 95% lambed by the end of March. Birth weights for singles, twins and triplets averaged 5.9, 4.7 and 3.8kg respectively. Lamb mortality levels averaged 8% for the period birth to 1 week old. Lambing assistance was recorded with 10% of lambing requiring manual assistance and a further 10% required very minor assistance. An average of 16% of lambs required help to suck or were fed additional artificial milk after birth. These were mainly in triplet or quad bearing litters. Average ewe BCS going out to grass was 3.1. Weather conditions were very kind to us and we were able to turn out most ewes and lambs after 36-48 hours with the exception of a couple of days around St Patricks day.  Grass growth rates have averaged 33kg grass DM/ha/day for March and early April which is about 25% higher than last spring. 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. Between 47 and 57kg of N has been applied per ha (38 to 46 units/ac) to date (18/04/17). We are splitting all paddocks to achieve 3 to 4 days grazing per break. Detailed results for ewe and lamb performance will be included in our next update.