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Sheep Newsletter - July 2023

10 July 2023
Type Newsletter

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In this month's edition:

  • Grassland management
    A dry May and first half of June has resulted in lower silage yields and covers on drier farms. July is a good time to take stock of winter forage saved. Chemical fertiliser prices have come back significantly from last year. Consider spreading additional fertiliser if you are short of winter fodder or are tight for grass. Prioritise lambs and give them access to the best grass on the farm.
  • Weaning
    The optimum time to wean lambs is at 14 weeks or 100 days of age. Leaving lambs on the ewes longer than this is counterproductive as the ewes compete with the lambs for the best quality grass. Once weaned, lambs should be divided into groups based on their liveweight.
  • Finishing lambs vs selling as stores
    If you are weighing up your options regarding finishing lambs or selling them as stores then consider using the Teagasc Store Lamb Calculator, which is an interactive tool that will enable you to work out the economics of both options. The calculator can be accessed online here
  • Ewe management after weaning
    Ewes need time to recuperate after weaning. Forcing ewes to lose weight after weaning is not a good idea. Restricting ewes for a week after weaning to help to dry them up is a good idea.
  • Thin ewe survey
    Do you have ewes that are thin, pinning and losing weight? If yes, then consider sending two or three of them to your nearest regional veterinary laboratory to see what is going on.
  • Wormer resistance
    Treating lambs for stomach worms? Check to make sure the treatment has worked. If you are treating lambs with a white (BZ) or clear (ML) wormer then you need to take a faecal sample for analysis two weeks after treatment. If you have used a yellow wormer (LV) then you need to take a faecal sample for analysis seven days post treatment.
  • Sheep Improvement Scheme ram task
    Many sheep farmers have selected year one as the year in which they have to purchase and use the genotyped/star-rated ram. If you have picked year one, then select your ram early and avoid having to purchase one that you are not happy with simply to tick the box for the Sheep Improvement Scheme.
  • BETTER Farm Update - Some choose to wean early
    Frank Campion, Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Athenry, Co. Galway reports on weaning, grass growth and lamb performance. The break in weather in the middle of June was a welcome relief to some of the BETTER sheep farmers who were starting to see soil moisture deficits cause a reduction in grass growth rates. Some of the flocks took the decision to wean the lambs a couple of weeks earlier than planned in order to reduce overall grass demand on the farm to ensure the best grass was kept for the lambs. 
  • Research Update - Weaning lamb performance
    Fiona McGovern, Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Teagasc Athenry, Co. Galway reports on the latest from the INZAC and breeding flocks at Athenry. Growth is currently 45kg DM/ha, but we are expecting this to pick up now that the rain has returned. All lambs in the INZAC flock were weaned on June 15, at approximately 98 days of age. As part of INZAC phase II, we have a fourth treatment group of New Zealand (NZ) x high Irish (HI) animals. Average weaning weights for the four groups were 38.6kg NZ, 36.2kg HI, 31.6kg low Irish and 35.5kg (NZ x HI). Despite the harsh start in spring, the good weather in May really boosted lamb thrive, with growth rates averaging 260-310g/day pre weaning across the treatment groups.
  • Health and Safety - Farm Safety Week 2023
    July is the most dangerous month of the year on farms so extra vigilance is needed. A lot of hazardous work takes place, particularly with machinery, while safety for children needs special attention. Farm Safety Week takes place commencing Monday July 17, see details of what's taking place here