Replacement ewe lambs on the farm of Peadar and Aoife Coyle are contract reared out and brought back a year later as hogget ewes.

This is what the duo told attendees at the Irish Grassland Associations farm walk, held on their farm last week.

Speaking about why they do this, Peadar said the temptation is there to let them out with the ram so he opts to contract rear them out to a farmer instead.

Speaking first about how they choose their replacement ewe lambs, Peadar and Aoife said: “Firstly, the ewe lambs must be a twin and from a good mother that had plenty of milk.”

The pair also look at some other traits, such as breed, performance and growth rates.

“Potential replacement ewe lambs are ear notched at lambing time, with up to 220 ear notched at this time,” they explained.

“Then at weaning time we cut this number back until the final draft around August, where we would like to have in around 150 replacement ewe lambs.

“These ewe lambs then go off to another farm for 12 months, and are bought back again the following August as hogget ewes, before heading out to the ram in October.

“If I was to keep them on the farm as ewe lambs, the temptation would be there to let them out with the ram.

“If you were to do that you would end up having a second lambing group, as you would end up lambing the ewe lambs down after the main ewe flock.”

“With the numbers that we lamb down and the time and workload that is involved with it, I’d be ran out of the house if we had another three or four weeks ahead of us of lambing the ewe lambs after the main ewe flock,” Peadar joked.

“But seriously, it just would be too much, there’s enough work lambing down the main mature ewe flock over three-to-four week period and getting them going when they head out to grass and managing them from then on.

“It works best for us to move the ewe lambs off the farm, where there’s no chance of them being run with the ram and it also frees up more grass on the farm as well.”