Lambing is almost over, only a handful of pork left. It went relatively well as the weather was great. I can’t remember a spring that has been this good weather wise and as we approach the end of April the focus is now on getting the herd ready for the rest of the grazing season.
When the lambs start nibbling on grass, they are susceptible to stomach worms, particularly Nematodirus worm. This worm hatches at this time of year when temperatures rise and the Ministry has already issued a hatching alert.
You must dose lambs that are approaching six to eight weeks of age. If you don’t, they could die.
I also have to dose the lambs for coccidiosis. It was a problem for me last year and it’s cheaper and better to dose them at a young age now. However, I will be dosing them about a week after the Nematodirus dosing and plan to treat the flock with an infusion against fly infestations.
I’ve already noticed a bit of scalding creeping into the lambs, so I’ll deal with that when I administer them next week. I put them in a foot bath made with a 5-10 part zinc sulfate solution and it heals it within two days of bathing. It’s really effective.
Grass growth was excellent and the little rain on Easter Sunday was much appreciated. I didn’t measure as much as I used to because I just don’t have the time when lambing. Pasture Base Ireland estimates grass growth at Westmeath at 65 kg/DM/ha which is excellent. Soil temperatures were good and I spread the fertilizer carefully, timing it with the predicted light rain to wash it into the soil to reduce losses and maximize its effectiveness.
What I’m really happy about is that I’ve used less fertilizer, but I’m getting good bang for my buck for what I’ve put. I sprinkle little and often in 50-pound splits per acre, timed with some light rain and there is no wastage.
What also really helped until it was stolen from the tractor is the GPS device and guidance system. I was robbed of it last week and apparently there has been a spate of similar GPS thefts across the country.
After the robbery I was a bit disillusioned with everything as I worked 24/7 to keep everything running. The sad thing is that the stolen device is completely useless to anyone as it is PIN protected and now disabled. It was stolen so that nothing else would be stolen.
I plan to sow 30 acres of redstarts to finish my lambs. I was originally considering sowing Tyfon in a grass seed mix but at the price of grist I wouldn’t want to buy grist for lamb fattening and by seeding Redstart there’s a chance I can get some winter forage on it, like it again grows.
I feel like anything I can do to reduce costs is worth it when the cost of all inputs is so high. Last year I finished all my lambs without a meal on Tyfon and Redstart. I hope to make a lot of silage as cheaply as possible.
I know we had a light spring this year. Can you imagine what it would be like if we got a harsh winter next year and a food crisis in 2023?
It’s been a good year, but soaring diesel and fertilizer costs have hit agriculture.
Whatever the small price increase brings to the farmer is quickly eaten up by the increase in input costs. It’s kind of scary.
John Fagan farms in Gartlandstown, Co. Westmeath
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/sheep/advice/john-fagan-why-its-cheaper-and-better-to-dose-lambs-now-at-a-young-age-41586815.html John Fagan: Why it’s cheaper and better to dose lambs at a young age now