A few days now away from the shortest day but as we all know, proper winter is still to come. May and the first two weeks of June have been very good with reasonable rain and mild temperatures allowing many of us to build feed covers following what was a fairly tough drought. (We weren’t able to do this in 2007 when it didn’t rain at all in April and May)
I’d got my feed demand down below 10kg/DM/ha/day by mid April (usually down to 12-13 in June), applied 37 units of nitrogen/ha everywhere the truck could go and by June had good enough cover to have been able to buy back 250 rising yearling bulls.

I was concerned however about how the ewes would scan. They were in reasonable order but had no supplements and certainly no flushing. Within a couple of weeks of the ram going out I was having to tighten them up during March and take some weight off them as I attempted to build some cover. But as you can see below they didn’t do to bad.

MA stud ewes 208% (.8% dry) includes triplets
2th stud ewes 197% (1.3%) includes triplets
MA commercial ewes 178% (2.8%) excludes triplets
Flock 2ths 167% (2.8%) excludes triplets
I’m always a little anxious waiting for the stud result as with single mating there are risks even though the rams are swapped around after the first cycle. You would expect their dry rate to be higher but I think being in smaller mobs with the one ram (as long as the ram is working!) improves their feed intake, reduces stress and thus assists performance.

The current stud ram hoggets have certainly improved from earlier in the autumn. They were 60kgs last week when I weighed them but had been 40kg in mid March and 30kg at weaning at the end of November. With most being triplets and twins, it takes awhile to get them up to speed and droughts don’t help.
There were over 400 ram hoggets at weaning including the single mated ewe hogget lambs and are now culled down to 165 so a lot have gone. Nearly all of those on hand have a DPP above 2000 which is the level last year’s top 2th rams were at so good genetic gains are happening.

They have all been ultrasound scanned for meat values and several went down to Lincoln University to be CT scanned which improves the accuracy of the meat component of the indexes.
The top ten or so will go through the Ramguard Facial Eczema testing programme in October so that only those that pass at .6 will be used as stud rams as in the past. It is only a matter of time before we see another FE challenging autumn and meanwhile those of you in ‘hot spots’ continue to improve your flock’s tolerance by using Marlow genetics.

Thank you for your custom last year and please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any queries or comments.
Winter well and all the best for lambing.