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Sheep Newsletter - April 2024

05 April 2024
Type Newsletter

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In this month's edition:

  • Grassland management
    Soil moisture
    Lots of rain in late February and March means that not a lot of sheep farmers managed to get fertiliser out prior to lambing. Having fertiliser in the yard to spread when ground conditions allow is essential.
    Nitrogen applications
    Urea is much cheaper than CAN per kg of nitrogen (N). If spreading straight N then there are huge benefits in terms of cost savings and environmental savings from using protected urea.
    Grouping up lambs
    Fewer grazing groups means more paddocks/fields are being rested and regrowth is protected. The aim should be to have five permanent divisions per grazing group.
    Silage ground
    Making high-quality silage starts with having high-quality grass. Remove any old grasses from the field by fully grazing out silage ground before closing up.
    Liming subsidy
    The closing date for spreading lime that was purchased last year under the liming subsidy scheme has been extended. Lime purchased under the scheme must be spread by Friday June 28, 2024.
  • Drafting early lambs
    High sheep and lamb prices have been seen in recent months. It makes no sense to keep lambs to above pay weight. Monitor kill-out rates and draft lambs as they come fit.
  • Flock health
    Tetany control
    Grass tetany is caused by a deficiency of magnesium (Mg). As Mg is not stored in the body to any great extent, lactating ewes need to be supplemented with it daily. The recommended daily supplementation rates are 3-5g Mg per head per day.
    Nematodirus control
    Nematodirus battus is the first worm that lambs will encounter (usually at five to six weeks of age) in the spring. These worms overwinter on pasture and hatch in huge numbers once weather conditions allow (a period of warmer weather).
  • BETTER Farm Update - Weather delays turnout
    Frank Campion of Teagasc AGRIC, Athenry, Co. Galway reports from the BETTER sheep farms around the country. Weather conditions are having an impact on the Teagasc BETTER sheep farms, delaying field fertiliser spreading and also delaying turning ewes and lambs out to grass after lambing.
  • Research Update - Lambing 2024
    Edel O’Connor and Anne Biggins report on the INZAC and Belclare breeding flocks. Lambing commenced in the INZAC flock on February 26. Ewes were synchronised and artificially inseminated in early October, resulting in a compact birthing pattern, with 67% of the ewes lambed at the time of writing (March 13).