Grass supply: This week’s PastureBase grass growth figures show an increase of between 10% and 20% compared to the previous seven days.

This means that even on higher stocked farms, grass supplies will be starting to build ahead of stock for autumn grazing.

Many farmers will be thinking of starting the last round of fertiliser in the coming days.

Where possible, this should not be delayed.

Research carried out in Teagasc Johnstown Castle looking at the growth response to chemical fertiliser application in autumn where nitrogen was applied on 1 August and 1 September with the growth response to each application measured found that for every kg of nitrogen applied, a response of 27kg DM of grass was recorded in August, while in September the response reduced to 19kg DM of grass. With increased fertiliser costs, it is important to get the best response possible from autumn applications.

Lamb kill-out: Some factories are reporting more variation in lamb kill-out in the last week to 10 days. Where lambs are grazing lush aftergrass and where weather conditions have become wetter in recent weeks are likely the issue here. It is important that drafting is done on a combination of both liveweight and fat cover when handled.

On farms where lambs have been killed and carcase weights have been poorer than expected, farmers should either increase drafting weights or start to introduce some meal feeding, which will help to increase kill-out by around 1% to 2%.

Health protocol for purchased stock: This weekend marks another big event on the breeding sheep sales calendar, however it is important that farmers have a plan in place for purchased sheep prior to their arrival on-farm.

First of all, newly purchased sheep should have a quarantine period of 28 days prior to joining the rest of the flock. This allows stock time to present any potential health issues that you do not want to introduce to your flock, such as lameness.

Wormer resistance is an ever increasing problem on sheep farms and farmers need to protect the efficacy of products that still work on your farm. Therefore, on arrival, newly purchased stock should be treated with a moxidectin product and Zolvix, which is a prescription-only product so it needs to be ordered from your vet in advance of arrival.

Sheep should remain housed for 48 hours post-treatment so that worm eggs in the gut do not contaminate pasture.

Dipping sheep is the optimum method for controlling scab and all external parasites. Where dipping is not an option, an avermectin product injection can be used for scab treatment however, in this case a pour-on will also be required to cover for lice and other external parasites.

Finally, vaccination protocols in terms of toxoplasmosis and enzootic abortion need to be decided upon and planned, as these need to be administered at least three to four weeks respectively before the start of the breeding season, although both vaccines can be given at the same time. A clostridial vaccination (double dose four to six weeks apart) should also be included.