Rain has resolved any grass shortage issues on Tullamore Farm and, if anything, farm manager Shaun Diver needs it to stop again.

Hay and silage had been introduced in June as grass growth dropped to below 20kg DM/ha in the first weeks of June. This meant weaning lambs early and introducing creep feed to calves to tide them over the grass deficit.

“It’s been either a feast or a famine so far this year and while it’s generally been a good year for grass, it’s been one of the most difficult to manage since I came to Tullamore,” Shaun said.

Quality challenge

The farm has gone from a deficit to a surplus in the space of two weeks and that brings challenges in maintaining quality in the swards.

During the dry period in June, covers were grazed that wouldn’t normally be grazed, but with grass in short supply, it was too big of a risk to go in and take them out.

It wouldn’t make sense cutting paddocks to feed it back in others, so cows grazed covers as high as 2,200kg. This wasn’t ideal and clean-outs were not as good as they should have been, but Shaun said he would top or take them out when things got back to normal.

Another issue was grass going to head very early in the rotation due to lack of moisture and stress.

This is also leading to quality issues in the swards that are currently being grazed and it means some paddocks are having to be topped at the moment.

Grass growth

The farm is growing 63kg DM/ha at the moment, with the current demand figure running at 45kg DM/ha.

The current days ahead figure is 20, but this is likely to reduce as a few paddocks come out this week.

Pre-grazing covers are coming back to around 1,600kg after grazing a few heavy covers last week.

Lamb drafting

Lambs have started to be drafted for slaughter, with a further 18 lambs slaughtered on 9 July 2020.

Liveweight was 42kg and with a kill-out of 45.4%, they came in at 19.05kg carcase weight. The average price was €5.62/kg and they came into €107.24.

Other jobs

All sheds in the farmyard are currently being power-washed and disinfected.

“We try to leave the sheds as clean and dry for as long as we can before housing. I always find that wind and sun is one of the best disinfectants you can get.

"It’s a big job, but we always find it’s worth it. As more and more lambs become fit, there’s a focus on drafting lambs as they come fit, so lambs are being weighed every 10 to 14 days," said Shaun.

In pictures

This week's draft killed at 19.05kg at a 45.4% kill-out.

A watchful Niko keeps as eye as Shaun Diver drafts lambs on Tullamore Farm.

Three paddocks have been taken out for round bale silage this week to maintain pre-grazing covers at 1,600kg DM/ha.

Creep feeding calves has stopped, as grass growth returns to normal July growth.

The clover swards have really started to come into their own over the last two weeks with an abundance of clover in them.

Lambs are currently being fed 300g/head of concentrates daily.

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