14 June 1996

May lambing finds favour

KEEN interest in May lambing has been shown by North West producers, said Dr John Vipond.

As a result he is considering setting up a group in the area to help promote the system.

"Most farmers have had to feed more concentrates than normal this year because of the long spring. When I tell them May lambing flocks were fed no concentrate, they were amazed," he said.

Late-born lambs experienced no weather stress which can check growth rates. In fact Dr Vipond noticed these lambs had nearly caught up with earlier-born peers.

"Some producers were wary of the system because lambing percentages of about only 130% were achieved in the early days. But we learnt some management tips from the study groups so averages of 160% are achievable now, with some producers managing 180%," said Dr Vipond.

"There are two ways of adjusting the seasonal pauses in lamb marketings: Encourage early and late lambing. The early route involves hormones to bring on ewes and concentrates to feed them. The general public is increasingly against the use of drugs, and feed is getting even more expensive. So late lambing is the better option. The system can be justified on welfare grounds alone – not to mention savings on feed bills."