In this article, CAFRE’s Nigel Gould looks at turning out cattle and ewes post-lambing.
While turnout may seem a while away on some farms, it will be closer on drier land where good grass covers have built up since closing last autumn.
Target younger, lighter stock towards earlier turnout. These are generally classed as higher priority stock on-farm and will cause less poaching.
Where ground conditions allow, turnout suckler cows and their calves next.
Turning spring calving cows out to grass in advance of the breeding season should boost fertility later on, as well as increase milk yield.
Turning out in the morning allows the animals to become acclimatised to the lower nighttime temperatures.
Choose well-sheltered areas for young calves in particular. For all cattle, turning them out slightly hungry ensures they go out with their heads down grazing, causing less poaching.
Ideally, for store cattle, concentrate levels will have been reduced in the lead up to turnout.
To achieve compensatory growth at grass and target:
- Daily live weight gain of over 1.0 kg per day;
- Live weight gain of 0.6-0.7 kg per day in the shed will generally suffice.
Turning out ewes post-lambing
With lambing underway or about to start in most mid-season flocks, turnout of ewes with their lambs at foot is getting closer.
Choose well-sheltered areas with target grass covers greater than 2200 kg DM per hectare (approximately 6 cm).
Marking lambs and ewes with numbers or letters makes identifying ewe and lamb sets easier if any health issues occur, and they have to be taken back inside.
Monitor closely, particularly in the days following turnout. Ideally, turn them out in the morning to allow them time to acclimatise to the lower nighttime temperatures.
Hypothermia is often the main risk factor with young lambs early in the season, particularly in periods of poor weather.
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