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‘I have not been able to get as much fertiliser spread as I would have liked to’

In her weekly Farmer’s Diary, Clodagh Hughes, sheep farmer, discusses blowfly strike, spreading lime and faecal egg sampling. 

The dreaded blowfly has struck again! I am so disappointed in myself for not noticing sooner because now I have two lambs out in the field looking like really badly shorn wee woollies.

The most annoying thing is that they had shown no indication that they were suffering, so it took me longer to pick up on it.

One lamb was worse than the other, but; they have both been treated and are already recovering well.

Another issue with this latest maggot attack means that; lambs which should have been ready for mart soon will have to be held back until they are fully fit.

I must stress that I had treated all my sheep earlier in the summer with a spray-on product to help prevent blow-fly strike. But, like all best-laid plans, something goes awry. The weather has not helped lately either.

Weekly diary

I want to gather the lambs today or tomorrow to give them their second mineral dose and also, to draft the next batch ready for mart.

Although seeing them in the field gives you a good idea of how they are coming along, nothing beats handling your animals up close.

Sometimes you can be surprised by how they weigh up in the yard compared to just observing them out grazing.

Besides, I have not bored you with any grassland management titbits recently.

So due to financial restraints on me this summer, I have not been able to get as much fertiliser, chemical or organic, spread as I would have liked to on the land.

You can now see the grass is lacking in nutrition. Although it is fine for grazing, and there is still plenty of it available to the animals, I would like to address this issue before September/October, when the grass growth begins to slow down for the winter.

Spreading lime

My next move is to spread lime on the farm. I learned all about the importance of lime values in our soils and grassland throughout my Green Cert studies.

It is very important that it is applied on grassland, as it is vital for the efficient uptake of the fertilisers we spend money on.

If the pH of the soil is not right, then the fertilisers will not be able to do their job effectively.

Studies by Teagasc have shown a huge proportion of Irish soils are deficient in their lime levels, and this can be easily rectified by the application of lime dust or pellets to the land.

It could be a case that it was never spread on the land I am farming, so, It’s well overdue.

I am also due to submit the first of my faecal samples to the lab. It is a dirty job, but, someone has to do it!

Getting the samples lab tested for specific internal worm egg counts will mean that I only administer deworming treatments on my vet’s advice and only if necessary.

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