Fraser and Doug have got the cull ewes and their lambs grazing on Glen Erin at the moment, plus a handful of Friesian bulls. The paddock is currently split into two with an electrified break-fence. The Avery’s are developing their stock water system to increase trough numbers, so that they can subdivide paddocks by break fencing when required.
This paddock is still performing very well by providing high quality feed to lactating ewes and their lambs. The actual lamb growth rate for these particular lambs is 305 grams/head/day. This growth rate is taken from the actual weight of individual lambs from tailing to now. The triplets seem to be the stars of the show at Bonavaree at the moment – growing 355 g/day. The farm average for this season is 330-340 g/hd/d. This data is able to be utilised by the Avery’s because of their voluntary application of EID tags in their ewes and lambs. Fraser said the extra work to tag the lambs with EID is not a hassle, and is easy to do as part of the tailing process. The biggest benefit will be realised when the technology is used to be able to identify their best animals overtime, and lift overall animal performance.
Fraser and Doug are on-track for a 25th November weaning date, although there will be one cut of lambs drafted out before then. This is later than usual due to the check the lambs got from the wet start.
The average pasture height in Glen Erin is between 20-22 cm. You will notice in the foreground of these photos (below) that the botanical composition of this sward has changed since our last visit. The plantain and lucerne are more obvious, whereas at our last visit the prairie grass was becoming more dominant in the sward. Fraser made the comment last time that he may get back to Glen Erin quicker than a lucerne rotation length in order to control excessive Prairie Grass growth. These sheep were moved onto this paddock after 28 days break. With soil and air temperatures improving as the spring progresses, all species within this Bonavaree mix should be able to compete well with each other. Although, Doug and Fraser acknowledge that a dry year will be the real test for this mix.
There were a few Plantain and Prairie Grass plants flowering when we visited. Fraser used the first summer of this paddock to replenish the seedbank of the sown species, by shutting it up and allowing it to set seed. This year the paddock will be included fully within the grazing rotation.
You can see by the photo (left) how the pasture species composition in this paddock has been improved, and the quantity of dry matter increased. The bottom of the photo shows the headlands of the existing pasture species, with the Bonavaree mix growing at the top.
Paddocks such as this offer flexibility as to when the Avery’s will wean. If the dry starts earlier than normal, then they can wean earlier and use these top performing paddocks as lamb finishing feed.
Key Bonavaree messages:
- Building flexibility into the farm system is the key to success.