The Irish Farmers Journal Tullamore Farm drafted its largest batch of lambs on 21 September, with 106 lambs slaughtered. The batch was split roughly 50:50 between male and female lambs. Performance of lambs improved significantly since the draft three weeks earlier, with ram lambs benefitting from concentrate supplementation of approximately 400g daily and developing a good cover of flesh.

Ewe lambs continue to be finished on grass alone. The entire batch, which was marketed through the Offaly Quality Lamb Producer Group, recorded an average carcase weight of 21.88kg.

The average paid carcase weight was 21.28kg and with an average price of €6.44/kg grossed €136.99/head. R-grading lambs were paid at €6.40/kg, with U-grades at €6.50/kg.

Farm manager Shaun Diver continues to excel in drafting lambs, with just four lambs penalised 10c/kg – one fat score two, and three fat score four.

Slaughter performance

The average liveweight in the batch was 48.64kg, with the average kill-out recorded at 45%. The average liveweight in ewe lambs was 47.9kg (44kg to 50kg), as detailed in Table 1. The kill-out was much better in ewe lambs and was recorded at 46.6%. The general range was 44% to 47%, with a few outliers killing up to 50% and likewise back to 41% to 42%, albeit numbers were small.

The kill-out in ram lambs was much wider. The batch weighing 49.3kg, on average (46kg to 53kg), recorded a kill-out of 43.5%, with several aged ram lambs exhibiting greater crossbred genetics, killing-out from 39% to 40%.

At the other end of the spectrum, a handful of Charollais-sired lambs bred from Texel x Mule-cross or Suffolk x Mule-cross ewes killed-out from 46% to 50%.

Remaining lambs

There are 80 ram lambs remaining and Shaun expects to have another significant draft of lambs this week.

Ram lambs have been receiving a slightly higher supplementation rate of 0.5kg/day since the last draft.

Ewe lambs continue to be finished on grass alone, but meal feeding will be introduced once there is any doubt over performance waning.

Change of direction

The farm is heading down a new direction in terms of its breeding programme and is incorporating a small flock of Easycare ewes in to the mix. The breeding programme has remained relatively constant in recent years – with Mule breeding initially followed by a crossbreeding programme retaining Texel and Suffolk replacements from Mule ewes.

The latter breeding cross will remain in place as Mule ewes transition from the flock in the coming years. A more comprehensive article detailing the change will be carried in the coming weeks.

A new Texel hogget ram was purchased at the recent Texel Society sale in Roscommon mart. The ram, which cost €1,020, ranks five stars for both maternal and terminal traits and will be mainly used on Mule ewes, with an eye on retaining ewe lambs for replacements.