Tom Staunton: ‘Learning the lessons from another lambing season’
As the lambing season comes to a close for us with the Lanark type ewe lambs and some Blackface ewes still to lamb, it’s a good time to reflect on the ups and downs of this year’s lambing.
The weather is one positive to take. A good winter left more grass for ewes and lambs all over the country. Having grass for ewes and lambs once they lamb takes so much pressure off the system.
Closing ground in time in the back-end and saving it for these ewes is important as is applying urea when suitable to kick-start growth.
Ewes lambed down with good bags of milk and I was very happy with how they performed on the meal mix they got before lambing. Different years bring different issues and no matter how prepared I am, something new will show up. I came across two apparently strong, healthy looking lambs dead last week.
All ewes were vaccinated for clostridial diseases. I still don’t know what caused it.
Any ewes with lambing or post-lambing problems were tagged and will be culled later in the year and fattened for slaughter. Using records like these will help improve the flock over time.
Picking ewes that have good lambs, lamb unassisted, milk well and their lambs perform well are noted and will be used for breeding replacements.
The Bluefaced Leicester lambs are thriving well. It’s only a few days since the last of them lambed. Lambing was more dragged out this year by not using AI.
The ram was ran naturally with the ewes. From a management point of view it would be convenient to have them lambing in a short window. There are a few ways this can be done and something I will look at again going forward.
Having them lambing down with the main flock had its advantages of being able to cross foster triplet lambs onto other Blackface ewes.
All lambs were weight recorded and sire/dam recorded at birth and a management tag was given to them all. This was done for our own use. This will make it easier to track weights, growth rates etc throughout the year and also these records can be used for making breeding decisions.
Over the past few weeks, I got the chance to go through the dry Lanark-type ewe hoggets and Mule hoggets after the winter. The hoggets were in great condition after a mild and kind winter. I’m happy with the way they’ve developed and they will be a good addition to the flock. They were due a fluke and worm dose. I dosed all with Levafas Diamond and moved them to clean rough ground near the hill where they will wait for the next few months until shearing. I also got some more urea spread on more of the farm that hadn’t gotten anything yet this year.
I intend to take some dung samples this year to be more accurate with my dosing.
All lambs will be vaccinated with a 10 in 1 clostridial vaccine followed by a booster shot four weeks later. Ewes and lambs will be moved into bigger groups which will make them easier to manage and grass easier to manage also.
The aim is to keep them growing well while they are young. Keeping good grass in front of them is key to keeping the ewes milking and the lambs thriving.
Tom Staunton farms at Tourmakeady, Co Mayo