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Des Powell - lambing went reasonably well this year

Des Powell - lambing went reasonably well this year

Des Powell, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary, operates a sheep and beef farm in conjunction with his parents George and Frieda. Here he gives us an update on his farm for May.

Lambing complete

I am glad to be out the other side of lambing. Lambing went reasonably well for me this year, with no major issues with lambing. But we did have a few difficult nights when stock could not be at grass because of the difficult March / early April. I think it was the highest rainfall on record in March. The bad weather made things challenging, but we managed to create space for groups of ewes and their lambs to be held in the sheds until conditions improved. I tried to make the work a little bit easier this spring by not rearing any bucket calves, which I would normally do. Labour has become a major issue and it just didn’t make sense stretching myself too thinly, particularly in the middle of lambing.  

Grass cover

I did a grass cover this week and I have 18 days ahead of me, which is spot on. This means that I have enough grass for 18 days.  Walking the farm and doing the grass measuring has given me the confidence to make decisions around grassland management. I am waiting for the rotation to settle down, as I had a herd test last week, which complicated the matter with keeping the cattle close to the yard to make things easier. 

Grazing the right cover

I have now closed up the silage ground and working on the basis that I am better off being a little tight rather than having too much grass around the farm. If I have lots of grass and flocks are going into heavy covers, the quality of that grass is not great and then it’s a cascading problem in that the following paddock is even heavier because it’s taking so long to graze out the current paddock. I would prefer to be a little tight on grass for the current paddock on the basis that the next paddock will be the right cover and keep the quality high, especially when lambs are relying more and more on grass for their feed. I learnt my lesson last year by letting the grass get ahead of me and the digestibility suffered. I hope I have the confidence this year to close up paddocks for silage, even if I am a bit tight for a few days, it will turn around quickly at this time of year. 

Dosing for nematadirus

I am dosing for nematadirus at the moment using a white drench. I am doing this based on the DAFM forecast. For the summer, my dosing regime will be based on faecal egg sampling. I will take a composite sample from 12-15 lambs each time. It needs to be a fresh sample. I get the sample bottles from Athenry, because I am in the Signpost Programme, but I assume you could also get these from the vet. I get the results back quickly. The cattle were egg sampled recently and they came back clean, which means I don’t need to dose for the moment. The faecal egg sampling takes the guess work out of dosing. The sheep are first egg sampled at the end of May and done every 2-3 weeks thereafter, depending on the previous tests results.   

Des Powell is a particpant in the Teagasc Signpost Programme. For more information on the Signpost Programme, click here.