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Sheep Newsletter - April 2022

06 April 2022
Type Newsletter

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In this month's edition:

  • Grassland management
    • Grass is the cheapest feed you can produce – even if grown with expensive fertiliser.
    • Silage is the second cheapest feed you can produce.
    • Concentrate feed is the most expensive way to feed stock.

The relatively mild winter weather has resulted in lots of grass on many sheep farms. Even fields with heavy covers should receive chemical nitrogen (N) to drive on grass growth.

  • Fertiliser
    Fertiliser prices have increased further since January/February. Depending on fertiliser type and when it was purchased in 2021, farmers will find that their fertiliser costs will have increased somewhere between two and three fold when compared to the 2021 figure.
  • Silage/winter fodder
    Once livestock have been turned out to grass, do an inventory of silage, hay and straw that has not been used and can be carried into next winter. This will reduce the amount of winter fodder that needs to be grown this year with very high fertiliser prices.
  • Concentrates
    Concentrate feed prices have increased dramatically. Consider maximising the use of grazed grass to reduce your concentrate usage in 2022. Remember that lamb prices over the last ten years have been remarkably stable from mid July onwards.
  • Parasites
    In April, we generally see the first parasitic worms showing up in lambs. This infection is caused by nematodirus. Generally, lambs start coming in contact with this parasite once they start eating grass (five weeks of age).
  • BETTER Farm update - Farm covers
    Frank Campion, Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Athenry, Co. Galway reports on farm grass cover and the start of lambing on the BETTER sheep farms. The start of March provided an opportunity for the farms to get the opening round of fertiliser out (protected urea at 15-20 units/acre). Fields which will respond best to N were targeted, with poorer-performing paddocks or areas designated for silage being left until later.
  • Research update - Lambing 2022
    Fiona McGovern of the Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Teagasc Athenry, Co. Galway reports on the INZAC and breeding flocks at Teagasc Athenry. Lambing commenced in the INZAC flock on February 28, 2022. Having our ewes synchronised prior to AI in early October means that our lambing spread has been quite compact, with 65% of the ewes lambed at the time of writing (March 14).
  • Health & Safety - Minding your mental health
    Farm families are encountering an increasing financial burden due to rising input prices at a key time of the year. It is important to manage inputs as effectively as possible, but also be aware of the importance of staying positive and minding your mental health.