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Update August-September 2018

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

On a stocking rate basis, 18% of lambs have been drafted from the 11 ewes/ha groups with 14% from the 13 ewes/ha groups up to mid-August. Average liveweight for lambs drafted to date (August 16th) was 43.7 kg with average carcase weight 19.8 kg. This represents an average kill out percentage of 45%. Lamb growth rates for the past month have been in the region of 139g/day (grass only) to 155g/day (grass + white clover). This corresponded with the period of very dry weather conditions. Grass growth rates were up to 85% lower than normal here in Athenry for a period in mid-July although we have been lucky in that we did not experience as prolonged a dry period compared to some parts of the country. As a result of this lambs were supplemented with 0.5kg conc/hd/day for 4 weeks and ewes were supplemented with silage to stretch what grass was available and to allow farm cover to build back up when conditions improved. Average ewe BCS has been maintained at 3.0 since weaning. Replacement rates for the flocks this year will range from 18 to 22%. Faecal egg counts continue to be monitored in lambs. We did see a sharp rise in egg counts once rain arrived following the dry spell. To date 85% of the total N allowance for both the high (145kgN/ha) and low (90kgN/ha) N treatments has been spread. Grass growth rate has improved to average 70kg DM/ha for the last number of weeks which should hopefully help us build cover for the autumn and allow some surplus to be conserved to replace silage fed to ewes last month.