Grassland management is the order of the day at the moment, as grass growth has sky rocketed in the last couple of weeks. A number of fields have been topped lately as the covers were on the higher side of where I would have liked them to be before the ewes went in. I could have forced the ewes and lambs to graze them out better before moving them on, but I figured this would only penalise the lambs’ performance, which is the last thing I want to do.

The fields were topped prior to the dry hoggets entering, resulting in any uneaten stemmy grass being spread out across the field as they picked out the remainder of the nice bits available to them. Grass growth has been exceptionally strong here lately, with growth of well over two and a half times demand, meaning that not only were ewes entering some fields with higher covers than I would like, I was also removing paddocks as bales in order to keep some semblance of a wedge.

This is a very fine balancing act, as if I take too much out, I am left with nothing for the stock to eat. Growth has eased slightly in the last week and is currently around 79kg DM/ha, with demand up at 51kg DM/ha at present. As we have only had 2.5mm of rain here so far this month, I am reluctant to drop too many paddocks out for more silage at the moment, as regrowth will be restricted due to the lack of moisture.

We are starting to wean the ewes and lambs from the different mobs from this week on. I will leave the mob of repeats with their lambs for another couple of weeks, as the lambs are still that little bit younger than the other mobs. I find managing the stock from now on a lot easier, as lambs are divided into four groups with ewes following around behind cleaning out the paddocks.

The groups are made up as follows: the male and female lambs are divided into two separate groups. These two groups are then divided by their weight, with the heavier male lambs put on the redstart while the other groups will remain on grass.

First thing after weaning, I will pull out and cull any ewes with broken mouths, problem elders and those that have received a double notch in their ear since last year. Any ewes that are lame will be removed and put into a separate group for treatment. Any that do not respond favourably will also be culled from the system. Once these ewes are identified, I will then have a better idea of how many replacements are required for the coming season.

The group of heavy ewe lambs will be where I select my replacements from. Information such as litter size, birth weight and average daily gain from lambing to weaning will be used to select these.

It is important to use as much information as I can to choose the best quality lambs for breeding. Taking time at this stage of the year to look at the data will hopefully pay off when these animals start breeding on the farm.