Rams are ready to go again for a second cycle of repeats


Rams are ready to go again for a second cycle of repeats


Hopefully the rams will not be over-worked.
Hopefully the rams will not be over-worked.

Grass growth on the main grazing platform at Lyons was running at 35kg DM per ha per day up to October 22.

This is slightly ahead of previous years, though the difference is not huge. We are currently in the process of closing paddocks for spring.

It is important to close paddocks in time and avoid the temptation to re-graze these paddocks later in the year.

We aim to have about 20pc of the paddocks closed by the end of October.

Grazing conditions are very favourable on the farm this year allowing for very good clean out of paddocks, which will support good quality growth next spring.

Conditions have also been very good for the growth of our Redstart crop this year.

This crop was established on July 24 and on October 25 an un-grazed section had a pre-grazing DM yield of 8.5 tonnes per ha.

This equates to a daily growth rate of 95kg DM per ha per day. Lambs were grazing a 6.9 tonne crop up to last week, but it was felt that this very high yield may have led to a reduction in lamb performance due to a loss of feed quality; lamb growth rates were 170 grams per day.

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These lambs were moved to a lower yield crop (5.2 tonne DM per ha), with these heavier covers being used for cattle and to carry ewes during the winter period.

We have sampled the various covers for chemical quality analysis.

Thirty-eight lambs were drafted for slaughter at 45.5kg live-weight last week, but the kill-out reports were not available at the time of writing. This leaves us with 64 lambs remaining to be finished.

Next year’s lamb crop is hopefully progressing nicely.

Fifty-three ewe lambs and 333 mature ewes were joined with the rams on Monday October 15. These ewes and lambs were mated to a synchronised oestrus.

There was one sponge lost from the ewe lambs and two from the ewes. At 48 hours after ram turnout 51 of the ewe lambs were mated, and 320 of the ewes had been served. By 72 hours 331 of the ewes were mated, leaving just the two ewes which lost sponges.

Rams were raddled with yellow raddle and it is quite a sight to see the dramatic change in colouring of the flock over two days.

Rams will be reintroduced this week with a change of raddle colour to pick up repeats.

Compact lambing season

The ewes will then get a second repeat cycle but the ewe lambs will not. Hopefully the rams will not be over-worked.

This compact mating leads to a compact lambing season, which requires a high labour input.

Another aspect of a very compact lambing season, is the rapid onset of demand for grass.

Our ewes are housed in late pregnancy and will be turned out about two or three days after lambing.

This will see about 85pc of the flock being turned out in the space of a week. Such a system dictates that there must be sufficient grass supply available to meet the demand of the ewes.

Work from Lyons shows that where ample grass supply is available, there is no intake or performance benefit from feeding meals, in fact, meal just serves to replace grass in the diet.

So our target is to have sufficient grass at turnout (average farm cover of 820kg DM per ha) to avoid the requirement to feed meals.

Professor Tommy Boland is an associate professor in sheep production at Lyons Farm, University College Dublin. Twitter: @Pallastb Email: [email protected]

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