14th March 2021 update
First to some good news. In the previous blog, I showed a woolly ewe staring up at the sky suffering from PEM. She has made a full recovery and is back in with her mob. She was in a cull mob, but now that they are due to lamb in about a month, we've decided to shear them, keep the lambs and cull the ewes after lambing. There are actually 88 of them, not 60.
We've not had a wet March in terms of lots of rain, but until 12th March 2021, we only had 2 dry days and a total of 34mm so far for the month. As you can see in the photos below, some clover has already germinated, new ones are germinating, and ryegrass is making an appearance. The kikuyu is going very well, but is hungry and would love some fertiliser (no point until we have more sheep as we already have plenty of feed).
The weather has also been on the cooler than average side, which is all good for the chance of the clover and ryegrass to survive until winter arrives. For those overseas reading this, usually clover and ryegrass germinating in March will die because the kikuyu will suck the moisture away from them and we will usually get a few hot dry weeks. But maybe not this year. Time will tell, but there is a reasonably good chance much of the ryegrass and clover will survive this year.
I have negotiated a sprayboom sharing deal with a nearby farmer (he uses our tractor, we can use his excellent boom), so when that arrives, I will be spraying some fungicide on the pastures, not to control disease though that wouldn't hurt, but because of its very useful side effect. You know how medicines can have side effects, well, carbendazim has a very useful side effect on snails. With all our liming, snails are very happy on our pastures. They are not in big numbers, but I would like to get them down to zero. The pasture might benefit from the fungicide too.
And as written in my agronomy newsletter, we are at a high risk of damage from spotted alfalfa aphids. These like wet Autumns and with their toxic saliva and carrier of viruses, clovers can be killed very easily by them in years like this. Unfortunately the boom won't be here until April, which might be too late, but we will see. I can't see the aphids just yet, but the ground is teaming with all sorts of life.
Our older ewes are performing very well. They lambed in January 2020, August 2020, and are now are due to start lambing 16th March 2021. We now have three main mobs of ewes - mixed aged, purple tags (born 2020) and green tags (born 2019). We also have three small mobs of ewes. One is a selection of ewes that got into lamb early with our elite ram (Cassius), one that are selected full shedding ewes that are currently in with Cassius, and woolly cull ewes that we've decided to shear (via mobile contractor) to keep the lambs and then sell the ewes at weaning (we have their eID's in the system). After shearing, they will be merged in with a ewe mob that will be lambing at a similar time to them.
And we did get one of the two blood test results back. Unfortunately the samples from the ewes were lost at the lab. The results from the weaners show we have increased the copper levels by keeping copper blocks in the troughs, but we are still on the low side of where it should be. We will keep monitoring this. I expect it will all come good once more copper is topdressed on the pastures.