There was 55 lambs drafted for slaughter on Tullamore Farm this week.

This brings the total number drafted to 108 lambs or about 35% of progeny born in 2021.

Farm manager Shaun Diver drafted lambs well down in the weights in the last draft on 8 July, so he was particularly pleased with lamb performance over the last two weeks.

Ram lambs

As Table 1 shows, the greatest percentage of lambs drafted to date have been ram lambs.

This is influenced by the fact that ram lambs have performed slightly ahead of ewe lambs, but more so by the fact that up to 40 ewe lambs which could also be drafted have been put aside as potential replacement ewe lambs.

The higher drafting rate is also benefitting from significantly higher farmgate prices.

The average sale value of all lambs drafted to date is €132.85 compared with €108.96 in 2020.

Table 1 also details extensive slaughter performance details.

The latest draft of lambs achieved a kill-out of 48.5% and a carcase weight of 20.72kg.

The average kill-out is running 4% higher to date, which is boosted by a higher number of lambs grading U. The breakdown is 60:40 R:U in 2021 compared with 90:10 R:U in 2020.

Higher performance

As Figure 2 details, the drafting rate is running significantly ahead of the corresponding period in 2020.

Lamb performance was significantly hampered by tight grass supplies and lambs being weaned early as a consequence and also possibly due to an underlying coccidiosis issue.

In contrast, lambs have had no setback during this year’s grazing season, with grass supplies reducing at certain periods, but never getting to a critical position.

Shaun has also been grazing ewes and lambs ahead of cows and calves in high-clover swards in recent weeks and this has worked well in underpinning performance.

With sufficient grass supplies available, weaning was also delayed for a couple of weeks to allow an extra draft of lambs to be selected.

Yearling hogget lambs

Shaun has also been impressed with how lambs born to yearling hoggets have performed.

While there is a big variation in performance, which is to be expected, there has been 14 lambs drafted from this batch.

Lambs reared artificially and problem ewes (blind teats, mastitis, etc) and their lambs are also in this group.

The 100-plus lambs in this group have been offered creep and in the run-up to weaning were consuming in the region of 0.5kg per head daily.