The great work of weighing and weaning the lambs born in March is complete. Our average weaning weight was 33kg with a wide variation from some lambs over 50kg to small lambs of 15kg. That’s what happens when you weigh all the lambs, but to get the right result you have to weigh them all, there’s no point in weighing only the best lambs.
Her average daily weight gain since last weigh in was 260g per day which is a bit disappointing but with dense weed and not good quality we expected the weight gain to be back. With our lead at 40-day weight, we still hit our 70+ wean goal. When we had the lambs on the scales we also checked the Dag Score with 70 of the lambs being clean and 30 showing signs of soiling.
All ewes were weighed on the same day. Our average was 75 kg with a body condition score of just three. They were checked for signs of mastitis, with 4.2 percent showing a positive result.
We have sold all lambs with a live weight of more than 42 kg and a good fat cover. They did well, almost 20kg, and the price was good for this time of year. But there are still many of these to be sold and it will be later in the year before we see where our average price will be.
The weaned lambs are standing on aftergrass, which has grown well in recent weeks. We will divide the lambs into three groups. The best receive a small amount of food, 250g/day, for three weeks before being sold. The next group will only get grass, as will the lambs we keep as spares.
Looking to the future, the question is what should we grow to exploit these lambs, both from an environmental point of view and from a financial point of view for the farmer.
Multi-species seems to be the buzzword these days. What are multispecies lawns? They are sods that feature a variety of plants from different plant families, including grasses, clover, cabbage and herbs. When combined in a sod, the different species root at different depths, allowing them to draw more nutrients and moisture from the soil.
The advantages of multi-species sward lie in maintaining a constant growth rate with reduced fertilizer use. A well-controlled percentage of clover in the sod (20 to 25 clover) can allow you to reduce chemical fertilizer application by more than half in summer, when it is critical for greenhouse grass emissions.
The multi-species have the ability to yield our monoculture perennial lawns by about two tons of dry matter per ha. But there are many unanswered questions, most trials have been done by cutting trial plots, but how will these mixes perform in a grazing situation? Will they be suitable for a 21 day rotation, will they be taken over by other weed species, will they survive in the mix or will they all disappear in a few years?
The persistence of multigrass turf in a grazing situation is the area we know least about at this time, but even if chicory and plantain die out after a few years and you have a field of perennial ryegrass with good clover, it may not be at all such bad result.
The ability of these mixes to grow large amounts of herbs with little or no chemical nitrogen cannot be ignored, and yes, there are still some questions to be answered. Sometimes the best way to find out these answers is for yourself.
If you’re re-seeding a paddock this year, it might be worth trying seeding a few acres with a mix of several species.
I know we’ll try some.
John Large Farms at Gortnahoe, Co. Tipperary
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/sheep/advice/john-large-why-sowing-some-multi-species-swards-this-year-might-be-worth-a-go-41820751.html John Large: Why it might be worth planting some multispecies this year