THE weaning of lambs on the lowland flocks is well under way with most of the flocks having weaned lambs by July at approximately 14 weeks of age.
Once weaned, lambs should graze to a residual of 5.5 to 6cm on grazing paddocks followed by dry ewes used to remove the remainder down to a residual of 4cm.
Many farms have begun selling lambs, the majority of lambs fit so far mainly being singles and pet lambs finished indoors.
Regular weighing of lambs should remain priority, handling for fat cover should remain an essential part of each sheep farmer’s routine as there is a very limited market for very heavy lambs and allowing lambs to go overweight makes no economic sense. A well fleshed lamb of 45 or 46kgs live weight should hit the target 21kg dead weight carcass at this time of year.
Kill out rates for lambs vary with age, breed, sex, diet offered. Keeping a note of your liveweights pre slaughter is very useful in calculating kill out % after you receive your returns from the factory.
You should use this information to decide on your target liveweight for drafting and select within a 4 to 5kg weight range while always ensuring lambs are handled well.
Don’t allow ewes to lose too much condition after weaning as this is not a positive thing. Pick out thin ewes and run them on better grass so that they can gain condition.
Thin ewes may need up to 12 weeks of preferential feeding to pick up enough body condition and remember the clock is ticking. July/August are the months to start thinking about vaccinating ewes for toxoplasmosis and enzootic abortion if these form part of your flock health plan.
All the evidence shows that using high-index performance-recorded (star rated) rams increases farm profitability and reduces labour associated with difficult lambing and reduced mortality. Purchasing rams that are not performance-recorded is a shot in the dark.