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‘We have to watch our expenses as margins are not there with sheep’

Edward Earle, Gorey, Co. Wexford, works as a quality engineer and farms over 300 ewes in partnership with his parents.

The 31-year-old, who studied agricultural science at WIT and UCD, is That’s Farming’s newest weekly contributor – here is his next update:

We are continuing to vaccinate lambs with Heptavac P when they are old enough to be done, and dose for Nematodirus.

We pay attention for the Department of Agriculture Nematodirus forecast for the peak hatching.

From the forecast across the country, Nematodirus egg hatching is expected to peak this year between April 14th and April 21st.

Grouping up of the ewes and lambs into larger groups has started; this will allow for better grassland management with good cleanouts on the paddocks.

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We have to be careful at this time of year not to push the cleanout too much as it could impact on the ewes, ability to milk, which will impact on lamb growth.

As our aim is to finish lambs off grass-only diet, we do not want to stunt their growth and performance at this key stage, otherwise, we will cost ourselves meal bills later.

The drop of rain at the weekend has been welcomed to get grass growing. It was clear from paddocks that had been grazed that the regrowth was slow, but this week it has picked up, following the rain.

Paddock system 

Over the last 4 years, we have introduced a paddock system on to the farm moving from 12 fields to 41 paddocks and this week, we set up the last of the paddocks.

We were very sceptical of this system but after talking to farmers who were in the Teagasc Better Sheep Programme, we could see that there was something to be got from paddocks.

The aim of implementing a paddock system is to use less meal feeding and drive lamb performance from quality grass.

Like all family farms, we have to watch our expenses as margins are not there with sheep, so that is why we have slowly worked away at setting up the paddocks.

We basically started with the field beside the yard and have worked our way from one field to the next. We put an ad up on DoneDeal and that is how we sourced all water drinkers for paddocks.

As we have 3 polywires at each gate into the paddocks, I use 3 different colours just to avoid knotting up the wires and having to try un-tangle them.

I have also left gateways around the field so when hedge-cutting or cleaning dykes, it’s only a matter of opening the gate and continuing with the job at the time.

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