This period post-lambing is always a good time to reflect on how things have gone, before all of the problems and mistakes are forgotten about. It’s normally when we start looking at how any changes in breeding have performed over this critical time.
With an increased number of ewes on the farm this year, and the introduction of two new breeds, we have been left with a lot to think about. Issues with some of the rams we’ve used have been the biggest talking point and have left us in no doubt that working closely with your ram breeders is key. This is something we are looking to do to greater effect as we expand our flock.
See also: Read more from our other Livestock Farmer Focus writers
Routine spring work is under way. Silage ground has been harrowed and rolled, and for the first time is going to receive an application of “BetterGrass” to improve trace element and mineral content of the silage. Land intended for reseeding has been sprayed, some has been ploughed, and the remainder is being direct drilled.
Lambs have had their first vaccinations, multi-vitamin drench and a wormer to counteract the high nematodirus risk this spring. With the grass keeping up with demand, lamb growth rates are pleasing and ewes are gaining condition. This is the first year I’ve been routinely out measuring grazing covers and ensuring that ewes are taken off in time to leave the correct residuals.
Even using my low-tech sward stick it’s interesting to see the growth curves of different areas of the farm, and even between our upland and lowland land. Despite our lowland land being in a much more favourable climate, our upland land is growing more grass thanks to better grasses and increased levels of clover. It highlights that management of grazing is the key driver of growth, rather than location. The challenge is now how best to fit in a grazing rotation to ensure we are maximising the use of the grass we can grow.
Tom Jones lives on a 200ha upland beef and sheep farm near Lake Vyrnwy, Montgomeryshire. He also has a contract shepherding business looking after ewes locally