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Update April-May 2018

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

Lambing commenced on March 5th and finished on April 7th. Mean lambing date for 2018 was March 15th. Approximately 90% of the flocks lambed over the first 20 days. Birth weights for singles, twins and triplets averaged 6.3, 5.1 and 3.9kg respectively. Lamb mortality levels averaged 7% for the period birth to 1 week old. Lambing assistance was recorded with 20% of ewes requiring some level of assistance although about half of this was very minor. An average of 9% of lambs required help to suck or were fed additional artificial milk after birth ranging from 5% for singles to 14% for 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. Grass growth rates have averaged 8kg grass DM/ha/day for March (~50% below normal) and 22kg DM/ha/day for April (~15% below normal up to Apr 19th). Our opening farm cover was below target at around 15 days ahead and as a result of this and the below normal grass growth in March and April we had to supplement the ewes with 0.8kg conc/ewe/day for 4 weeks from mid-March to mid-April to ration out available grass, slow the rotation and give regrowth’s (although slow) a chance to grow. This also supported ewes during peak milk production so hopefully it should have reduced body condition loss and maintained a reasonable level of lamb performance. Detailed results for ewe and lamb performance will be included in our next update. To date a total of 57kg of N has been applied per ha (46 units/ac) in late February and late March.