Prioritising the best quaility grass on sheep farms to ensure optimum lamb performance has never been as important due to the lacklustre growth rates we are seeing of late.
The mixed bag that is the weather we have been getting, is really making life difficult on farms. Between the cold, wet, warm and, at times, windy weather, you never know what will be in store for the day ahead, although the last few days the weather has turned favourably.
Grass is still not really growing as it should be for the time of year on many farms, and that is causing major issues.
At this stage of the season, you would normally see fields starting to be baled for first-cut silage. However, this year, that is not as much the case.
Grass is very tight on farms, and many farmers have been forced to close up silage ground later than what would be normal and, in other cases, have been forced to go back and graze ground intended for silage.
At this point in the year, if grass supplies are tight on farms, which is probably the case for many, the focus or aim will be to try to maximise lamb performance.
As of now, ewes milk yield will be on the decline, so offering supplementation to ewes if grass is tight, in the hope of boosting milk yield, is a waste of time and money.
Therefore, if not done so already, any concentrates to be bought and fed should be aimed towards lambs. The level of concentrate supplementation will depend on the level of grass available on the farm.
If grass is plentiful on farms, a cheaper way of maximising lamb performance is by forward grazing lambs.
It gives lambs priority access to the scarce supply of high-quality grass.
Allowing lambs forward graze in front of ewes will improve lamb performance as it allows them priority access to the best grass before the ewes.
The ewes can be maintained on tighter grass for a longer period. Their condition can be recovered later in the year when grass supplies become more plentiful.