February 2016

I am aware of the rather large gap since the last update on here for which apologies. Looking back over the back end of the year, the last of the fat lambs went to Dunbia at the beginning of December. As you may know, we don’t feed any concentrates, all our fat lambs are off 100% grass. Average dead weight was between 18-20kgs with a significant majority grading at R3L or better right up to the end.

Then, of course, there’s been the wet. We were forced to house the ewes early January as they were hock deep in mud and water. My concern now will be managing the feed rations as we only use haylage bales and the quality analysis of this year’s haylage has been exceptionally high. At this stage I’m planning to reduce my concentrates pre-lambing by 15%, which hopefully will prevent too significant a build up of internal fat.

This year we scanned out 1.92 per head which is an improvement on last year’s rather disappointing 1.82 but back to our normal range. This was with a ram / ewe ratio of 1:92. The comment from our scanner was that we should expect another tight lambing period. We normally lamb about 90% of the flock in the first cycle – let’s see what happens this year.

Last year’s gimmer hoggs are all looking exceptionally well but with such a mild winter, we’ve had to keep an eye open for worm problems. I have about 20 ram lambs which, again, are purely grass fed (with a supplementary bale of haylage in their field), they are also looking in very good form but would certainly benefit from some dry weather. At least, if they need to do any catching up, we are very rarely short of good grass through the summer. In my next news letter, post-lambing, I’ll detail these animals with all the Signet data.

Looking forward into this year, the recent weakness in sterling against the euro and the dollar should help the export trade which was certainly a major drag on lamb prices last year. With a number of notable economists forecasting that sterling, for a number of reasons, could still fall significantly lower, lamb prices this coming season might well be a pleasant surprise. Goodness, we need one!