The busy lambing season is drawing to a close on the two Kerry-based trial farms which are participating in the Irish Country Meats (ICM) sustainability project.

The aim of the project is to demonstrate the economic and environmental benefits of using five star rams across a range of farming systems.

ABP Food Group’s Advantage Beef Programme farm liaison officer Gavin Healy explained that as of the end of April, over 400 lambs have been born as part of the trial.

Over 200 lambs are sired by five star rams, with the remainder of the groups sired by conventional rams on the farms.

As part of the project, each lamb has its individual date of birth, weight and identification number recorded.

One of the farms involved in the trial brings all of its lambs to finish. This farm started lambing on March 22.

Single lambs had an average birth weight of 5.5kg while the twins had an average weight of 4.6kg.

These lambs were bred from five star Texel rams purchased at Sheep Ireland’s multi-breed sale last August. The lambs were born with very little assistance and proved to be very hardy.

The other farm involved in the ICM sustainability trial sells the lambs as stores in August at an average weight of 30kg.

Lambing on this farm began on March 25 with the majority of the lambs being born in April. The single lambs averaged 5.1kg, with their twin counterparts averaging 4.2kg. These lambs are sired by five star Suffolk rams.

Gavin said: “Poor weather conditions made the lambing period a difficult time on both farms. In addition to this, poor grass growth has led to challenges with grass availability.”

Gavin said that despite the challenging start to the season, “lambs are thriving at an excellent rate and to ensure this continues, dung samples will be taken over the next few months to keep an eye on worm burdens.

“All lambs involved in the trial will be weighed once during the Summer and again at weaning. A once-a-month weighing routine will be put in place from weaning through the finishing period.”

Further updates from the lamb sustainability trial will be available on Agriland as the season progresses.