19 November 1999

Longer grazing

boosts weight

LONGER grazing and supplementary feeding is providing a welcome lift in some lamb weights and condition, say auctioneers.

"Producers are getting down to what theyre supposed to be doing," comments auctioneer Chris Reeks after seeing more light entries in recent weeks than buyers would have liked. Patience by fatteners and the improved condition which has resulting from extra feed has helped firm values. These averaged 75p/kg, up 2-3p/kg on recent weeks, at Frome.

"It would be very difficult to justify feeding these lambs on bought-in feed, but where home-grown forage or cereals are available its paying to increase weight," he adds.

Many areas are still seeing lambs out at grass, even if supplemented with trough feed. Northants-based auctioneer Brian Pile believes theres still plenty of scope for feeding without the risk of lambs getting fat. "Certainly theres more lean than fat lambs about."

That should allow producers to keep stock out across the end-of-year break in markets, which will cover a fortnight in some cases this year with extended holidays, without seeing too many getting over fit and being penalised as a consequence, he adds.

In the east, Peter Crichton has also seen weights improve with lambs averaging 42kg at this weeks Hill Farm Sheep venue edging trade up to an average of 73p/kg.

Where grass is limited, some lambs are now grazing sugar beet tops or root forages: "A few are starting to come in dirty and should be crutched," he warns. &#42