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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘A lamb will eat almost as much as a dry ewe on a grass-based system’

In this article, Jack Friar looks at where you should sell or finish store lambs.

If you are thinking of finishing your own lambs, remember a lamb will eat almost as much as a dry ewe on a grass-based system.

These lambs may be using important grass supplies, which is one of several important factors towards achieving a good lamb crop pre and post-tupping.

If you think grass supplies could be an issue over the next few months due to fewer fertiliser applications or poor weather conditions, it makes sense to sell them as stores.

If you decide to sell as stores, group lambs by breed, sex and weight. Batch lambs by estimated finishing time.

These can range from short keep (less than 6 weeks to finish) to long keep (12+ weeks to finish). An even batch of lambs will help both seller and buyer at the sale.

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On the purchasing side of stores, you need to decide on either short, medium or long keep.

Ideally, all lambs purchased would be removed from the grassland by the end of December. This is required to allow the swards time to recover before spring growth.

Therefore, ask yourself, how much grass is available? And how long do you intend keeping them for?

Performance of lambs over the next few months will be determined by lamb type, sward quality, parasite control and hopefully, the absence of prolonged periods of wet weather.

Creep feeding and budgeting

To speed up finishing, creep feed will reduce the slaughter period, but this will incur a high cost.

Overall, if you are thinking of finishing your own lambs or considering buying store lambs, always complete a budget.

Allow for the cost of bringing them through to finish and the expected value of finished lambs. The latter is often difficult to estimate; therefore, look at the market trends in recent years.

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