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October - November 2016

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

Rams were turned out to ewes on October 10th. Ewe body condition going to the ram ranged from 3.25 (high Stocking rate) to 3.4 (low stocking rate). Up to Mid-October approximately 73% of the lambs in the low stocking rate groups, 68% of lambs in the medium stocking rate groups and 45% of lambs in the high stocking rate groups had been drafted. These levels are 10-15% behind our long term average drafting patterns for the flocks. Lambs drafted to date have averaged 45.3kg liveweight producing a 19.3kg carcass which is 0.5kg lower than the long term average with KO% 2% below normal at 42.5%. Lamb growth rates for the past month have dropped to 120 to 135g/hd/day. Grass DM levels have been low (~12%) for a prolonged period which may have had some effect on lamb performance. Based on the slower than normal drafting pattern, concentrate supplementation was introduced to the two high stocking rate groups at grass in late September and all other groups in early October at a rate of 0.5kg/hd/day. Due to declining grass growth rates and grass cover the high stocking rate lambs were housed in Mid-October. Grass growth rate has averaged 46kg DM/ha/day for September and early October which is back in line with previous years after consistently higher growth rates throughout the summer.  By introducing concentrates to lambs we have been able to maintain grass cover for the ewes going into mating and are on target at 40 days grass ahead of groups at present. Closing of paddocks commenced in mid-October to build grass for next spring. The plan is to have approximately 20% of each farmlet closed on average by late October, 40% by mid-November, 60% by late November and 80% by mid-December with the remainder by late December/Early January. These targets will have to be adjusted upwards for the higher stocking rate groups.