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Sheep Newsletter - July 2022

07 July 2022
Type Newsletter

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In this month's edition:

  • Grassland management
    There are varying reports of grass growth rates on sheep farms, with some farmers reporting strong grass growths and the ability to take out surpluses as silage, and other farmers reporting being ‘tight’ for grass. At this stage of the year 60-70% of the annual grass growth has taken place.
  • Meal feeding
    Concentrate feed has become very expensive. If you have sufficient grass, then aim to use the grass to put flesh on lambs rather than feeding expensive concentrates. If you are short on grass you would be better off to invest in fertilser to drive grass growth rather than purchasing concentrate feed.
  • Ewe management post weaning
    After weaning ewes should be restricted at grass for no longer than one week. Restricting ewes for long periods post weaning has a negative effect on ewe body condition and next year’s lamb crop.
  • Early lamb 2023
    Easter Sunday falls on April 9 in 2023, while Ramadan begins on March 22 and ends on April 20, 2023. These are key dates that producers should keep in mind as they will drive demand for spring lamb next year.
  • Maximising lamb thrive
    1. Stomach worms – eliminate passengers.
    2. Minerals – cobalt is generally the limiting mineral that we see impacting on lamb thrive on Irish sheep farms.
    3. Grass quality – ensure that lambs have access to good quality leafy grass.
    4. Lameness – lame lambs will not perform. Ensure regular footbathing and prompt treatment of any lame lambs.
  • Liver fluke
    If you are sending cull ewes to the factory make sure you get feedback on the status of the livers. Factory feedback is the gold standard to know if sheep on your farm need to be treated.
  • Weaning
    There is no benefit in leaving lambs with the ewes for longer than 100 days (14 weeks). Leaving lambs on longer than this actually reduces performance, as the ewes are competing with the lambs for grass.
  • Selecting rams for breeding
    July marks the start of the breeding sales. Go through your rams and identify how many and what type of replacement rams you need. There are considerable advantages to buying replacement rams early.
  • Weaning underway
    Frank Campion reports from the BETTER Farm at the Animal & Grassland Research & Innovation Centre, Athenry, Co. Galway. Weaning of lambs on the lowland flocks is underway, with most of the flocks hoping to have weaned by early July with lambs at approximately 14 weeks of age. Once weaned, lambs will graze to a residual of 5.5-6cm on grazing paddocks with the dry ewes used to remove the remainder down to a residual of 4cm.
  • Research Update - Strong grass growth
    Philip Creighton reports from the Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Sheep Research Demonstration Farm, Teagasc, Athenry, Co. Galway. Grass growth was strong here in Athenry in May and early June averaging 75kg DM/ha/day, despite reducing our chemical nitrogen (N) application rates by 20% for the year to date.