Farmer Focus: 2,500 lambs finished in the nick of time

We have had a cracking lambing here at Valetta, with lambs tailing 160% due to a great spell of weather, which also saw us have a great run getting spring crops in.

Wheat, barley, peas and hybrid canola are all in and off to a good start, with hemp ground ready for drilling.

Fortunately spring options have been plentiful and reasonably well priced – at or slightly above last year’s levels.

See also: Top tips for high yielding late-drilled wheat crops

We seemed to run 10 days late right through the winter, firstly in eating off autumn pasture and getting lambs on to winter feed crops, and then, with very good utilisation, we continued on the back foot, spreading lambs out on to grass seed crops.

A mild August had seen a spurt of early growth, causing those grass fields to carry a bigger-than-normal bulk into September, and with a late start, we struggled to get them trimmed down.

All this turned out well as a run of colder damp weather saw the growth slow, both of the grass and also of the lambs.

Lamb finishing

Fortunately we had feed ahead of us to catch up liveweight targets in October prior to the grass seed crops being closed and the lambs breaking their adult teeth and halving in value.

It is a “100mph at a brick wall” strategy, trying to land so many lambs into a tight weight bracket in a three-week timeframe with teeth, market and crop deadlines.

It seems others around us who came off their green feed on time ate their grass down and fell in a feed hole during September, so maybe we were lucky.

The lamb finishing is integral to getting high yields in grass seed crops by careful management of tiller development and sward bulk, as well as contributing to one third of our gross farm income here at Valetta.

In the last two days we have loaded out 2,500 lambs for processing, so I’m actually looking forward to a couple of days in the tractor to catch up on spring nitrogen applications!