Sheep management: Prioritise good-quality grass for lambs

Over the last number of weeks, grass growth rates have taken a huge hit in account of the dry weather conditions.

Farmers in the eastern part of the country have taken the biggest hit. Growth rates as low as 22kg DM/ha have been reported. Although it did rain over the last few days in the east and south of the country, more is needed in order to get grass growth rates going at full tilt again.

Whereas, over in the western part of the country, a good dash of rain fell over the last week or so, which has kept grass growth ticking over.

In times when grass is slow to grow and supplies are getting tight, it is best if farmers prioritise offering their lambs the best quality grass that is available on the farm.

As we approach the middle of June, the majority of mid-season lambing flocks will have already or will be thinking about weaning lambs. 

By this stage, lambs that were born in March will be coming towards 12-14 weeks-of-age. This is when farmers should be thinking about weaning.

Also Read: Reducing grass demand by weaning lambs and culling ewes

The advantage of weaning, especially when grass supplies are tight, is that it reduces the ewes’ demand for grass.

This, in turn, will help to reduce and take the pressure off slightly – especially on farms that are experiencing very dry conditions.

Weaning lambs early will help to reduce the grass demand on the farm

If supplies are really tight, farmers should consider weaning lambs that are between 10 and 12 weeks-of-age.

If you are planning to wean, try to offer your lambs the best quality grass that is available on the farm. Ewes can be left to graze out the paddocks that they were in originally with their lambs.

By offering lambs good-quality, leafy grass, it will help to settle them down quicker after weaning and also minimise the risk of a dip in performance.

If it comes to a situation where grass is very tight for ewes, farmers should think about supplementing hay or silage.

Similarly, if grass is tight for lambs, farmers have the option of offering concentrates.