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Update June-July 2018

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

Conditions have changed a lot since our last update. The much improved weather conditions in May and June resulted in grass growth rates increasing rapidly to average 84kg DM/ha/day in May and 62 kg DM/ha/day in June (up to June 17th). This allowed ground closed for silage to bulk up quickly and we were able to cut our main silage in late May in ideal conditions. We also have cut quite a lot of surplus grass from paddock so we now have our silage requirements for winter 2018/19 plus a reserve of about 15%. Lamb performance from birth to 6 weeks was back compared to our long term average as expected with lambs in the 11 ewe/ha groups averaging 270g/day (-10%) and lambs in the 13 ewe/ha groups averaging 260g/day (-10%). Our most recent weights at 12 weeks of age show that the long term effects of the lower early life performance are still being felt with lamb growth rates from birth to 12 weeks of age averaging 250g/day (-5%) in the 11 ewe/ha groups and 240 g/day (-5%) in the 13 ewe/ha groups. This has not been helped by the very rapid grass growth in early June which made maintaining grass quality very challenging. While taking out as much surplus grass as we could to maintain quality, remaining grass still had more stem than we would like most likely due to increased stress levels due to the dry weather and lamb performance for the 2 week period in early June suffered as a result dropping to  between 190 to 200g/day. Lambs on grass-clover treatments have on average a 10g/day higher growth rate.  Fortnightly faecal egg counts commenced in Mid-May with lambs receiving a worm dose in early June based on egg counts rising above or approaching 500 eggs/gram. Lambs have also been supplemented with cobalt fortnightly from 8 weeks of age. Lambs will be weaned in late June at 14 weeks (100 days).