Update October-November 2017
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 3.0 (13 ewe/ha Stocking rate) to 3.2 (11 ewe/ha stocking rate). This is 0.25 to 0.5 of a BCS lower than we would like but the constant rain over the last 2 and half months is taking its toll. Up to early October approximately 51% of the lambs in grass only groups had been drafted, with 68% of lambs in the grass clover groups drafted. The grass lamb drafting rate is about 10-15% behind our long term average. Lambs drafted to date have averaged 45.2kg liveweight producing a 19.2kg carcass with kill out averaging 42 %. Due to slower than normal drafting pattern and kill out % we introduced concentrates to all lambs at a rate of 0.5kg/hd/day at grass in mid-September. Lamb growth rates since then have increased averaged 175 to 195g/day. Introducing the concentres increased the dry matter of the diet which had been low due to consistently low dry matters being recorded in the grass. Due to declining grass growth rates and grass cover as well as persistent wet conditions we took the decision to house remaining lambs in mid-October. These lambs averaged 39.9kg and are currently eating high quality grass silage (~75DMD) and 0.7kg conc/hd/day. Grass growth rate has averaged 44kg DM/ha/day for September and early October. We currently have 45 days grass ahead of groups on average. 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.