Farmer Focus: Unnecessary concentrate leads to penalties on lambs

We couldn’t have asked for better weather since my last article. A lot of November was quite warm and dry, until the past couple of weeks, with only small pockets of rain.

Grass continued to grow and we were still able to travel almost everywhere with slurry. Normally we would have had to use the contractor with an umbilical system by this point to keep the lagoon down.

The lambs are still finishing nearly completely off grass. They have access to creep, but are barely eating any.

If anything, the creep has caused us slightly more issues, with the lambs putting excess fat cover on, so we got penalised by the abattoir. The last two batches we sent have been 60% at R3H and R4L.

See also: Performance recording helps lift lamb cheque by £9k/year

We have already sent 16% of our fell lambs at over 42kg, which is the best we have ever done. Previously we would barely have a Swaledale lamb over 40kg before mid-December and this is without putting them in the shed and feeding hard.

The fell ewes have come down for tupping. The tups went in with them on 15 November and are tupping extremely fast, with plenty of grass in front of them. Hopefully we will have a better scan than last year, which was very disappointing.

We changed the colour of the crayons after seven days to make it easier for splitting ewes to lambing fields come spring, especially with the increased ewe numbers we are running on the fell now.

In mid-November, my dad and I headed over to Hanover to attend Eurotier so we could look at new equipment and ideas for the dairy development. We spent two days at the event, but really needed a third to see everything.

Just before this is published we are hosting a Farmers Weekly on-farm workshop on Rethinking Cattle Performance, so we have spent a week tidying up and setting up. It promises to be a brilliant session with discussions on calf nutrition and the benefits of using genomics to improve the herd.

Patrick Morris-Eyton is a new Farmer Focus writer. Read his biography.