Shelter protects store lambs from winter dirt

19 February 1999

Shelter protects store lambs from winter dirt

Wet weather has dominated

this winter, so how are

hogget finishers managing to

keep store lambs clean?

James Garner reports

WET, wintry weather can lead to dirty lambs, poor performance and rejection at market, but one Hants producer is trying his hardest to keep lambs clean.

Shelter is the key, helping keep lambs from becoming wet and dirty at Lodge Farm, Hook. Robert Janaway finds that tall hedges, not a common sight in arable dominated store lamb country, gives valuable shelter and helps management in wintry weather.

The Janaways have 700 breeding Mule ewes which are mainly crossed with a Suffolk ram, but ewe lambs are tupped by Lleyn and Charmoise rams to produce 1100 April-born lambs.

The lambs, sold in October and March, are finished off 65ha (160 acres) of direct sown stubble turnips grown on a mixture of land types.

"Because there is a mix of clay and chalk land we have to hope the weather is good when lambs are on heavy soils," says Mr Janaway. They normally stay clean on chalky soils even during wet weather.

"When it is wet and muddy we put out straw to make sure they have a dry lying area. But I try not to let the straw become thick in one area, as it is difficult to clear away and plough in."

As an arable farm, stubble turnips follow winter and spring barley so there are normally no grass areas for run-backs. But Mr Janaway says that when lambs are set stocked on chalky land, they clear a patch of ground which stays dry and acts as a clean lying area.

Most of the lambs go straight off stubble turnips to slaughter at 17-21kg, either deadweight, or liveweight at Guildford market.

For both marketing options, lambs must be clean and dry. "When lambs are drawn and are wet or dirty we house them overnight in a big airy shed on straw. We then dag those lambs that need it and will belly clip any that are really dirty."

Keeping stores can be difficult when the weather is wet. Last October and November, lambs developed scald and needed a lot of footbathing and individual treatment to clear this, he says.

Wet weather also results in poor crop use. "Lambs tread in a lot of bulb. We are hoping it will stay dry now so we do not run out of stubble turnips."

But if the stubble turnips ran out, Mr Janaway would move lambs on to grass at the farm and feed concentrates and hay to finish them.

"We have not fed any concentrates this year, but still have 500 lambs to finish. Smaller lambs may need to be brought inside and fed on soya and screening oats to finish them."


&#8226 Belly clip.

&#8226 Provide shelter.

&#8226 Adequate water.

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