Lambing percentages will be well up in 2016

Lambing percentages will be up by as much as 10%, year-on-year, according to Teagasc sheep specialist Ciaran Lynch.

“This is one of the trends identified through the Better Farms programme,” he said.

“And it’s a good news story for the sheep industry. Ewes were in excellent condition last autumn. And this has been reflected in the numbers of lambs they are now carrying.

“The big challenge confronting flock owners at the present time is that of feeding ewes correctly in the run up to lambing.

“To make this work requires the accurate identification of those animals carrying triplets, twins and single lambs.  Scanning makes this possible.

“Most flockowners now scan their ewes as a matter of routine. And for those that don’t, I would strongly urge them to reconsider this matter. The technology can be used to great effect on every farm with breeding sheep.”

Lynch confirmed that grass availability is currently good on most of the farms throughout his North East catchment area.

“But it’s grass availability at the beginning of March that will be the key determinant on sheep farms at that crucially important stage of the year.

Teagasc is recommending that flock owners should spread half a bag of urea per acre in mid- February, or as soon as soil temperatures hit 6 °C.

“In some cases there might be merit in spreading a compound, such as 18:6:12, just to give swards that bit of an extra kick.

“I would strongly recommend that a soil test should be carried out on all farms with fertiliser recommendations based on the results coming back.”

Lynch said flock owners should not be lulled into a false sense of security, where grass availability over the coming weeks is concerned.

“A few heavy frosts could burn off the grass that is available at the present time.  This is why it is so important for producers to put in place a realistic fertiliser programme now,” he said.