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Sheep Newsletter - January 2023

23 January 2023
Type Event Proceeding

Download Publication (PDF)

In this month's edition:

  • Grassland management
    Happy new year to all our readers. January is the month to mind grass and take steps to start growing grass for the coming spring. Don’t be tempted to graze covers in January or allow sheep to run over the farm.
  • Sheep census
    The sheep census takes place annually on December 31. Every flock owner must count the number of sheep on their holding on that day and notify the number to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM). In 2023, flock owners have the option of submitting the census online (deadline February 14) or alternatively, they can submit a paper version by post (deadline January 31). Submitting the annual census is a legal requirement, and it also has implications for eligibility for various schemes.
  • Fertiliser and feed costs
    Both fertiliser and feed costs remain at an all-time high. Not using adequate feed or fertiliser can have significant negative impacts on grass growth and animal performance. Similar to last year the best advice is to do a budget for what money can be spent on both feed and fertiliser.
  • Lime
    January is a good time to put out lime. If soil conditions allow and you have areas of the farm that need lime, then avail of this opportunity. Lime will repay itself over and over again in terms of maximising the fertiliser use efficiency and also freeing up nutrients trapped in the soil.
  • BETTER Farm Update - Silage quality is tested
    Frank Campion, Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Teagasc Athenry, reports from thefarms in the BETTER Farm programme. All of the lowland flocks have ewes housed at this stage, with most housing pre Christmas. Careful attention is being paid to ewe body condition score (BCS) since housing with some flocks having a higher than desired level of thin ewes at mating and with the comparatively wet conditions during mating making grass utilisation difficult, some felt BCS slipped during this time.
  • Demonstration Farm Update - Hoping for good scans
    Philip Creighton, Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Teagasc Athenry, Co. Galway, reports from the Sheep Research Demonstration Farm in Athenry. We had to introduce concentrate supplementation at a rate of 300g/hd/day in mid October due to low grass DM content and declining lamb average daily gain (ADG). Any lambs remaining on the farm in late October were housed due to the very wet conditions and to conserve grass for ewes.
  • Research Update - Silage feed value
    Tim Keady, Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Teagasc Athenry, Co. Galway examines factors influencing silage feed value. The main factor influencing silage feed value is digestibility (DMD). Increasing DMD increased silage intake during weeks -10 to -6 prior to lambing. When concentrate supplementation was initiated (week -6) the intake of medium DMD (70% DMD) silage remained relatively unchanged up to lambing, while that of the high DMD (79% DMD) silage declined as concentrate feed level increased. Concentrate displaced the high DMD silage in the diet.