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  • Writer's pictureWayne

A few problem updates

We had some problems with non-wetting soil from late April to early July. To remedy this, I added SE14 soil wetter to the liquid stream at sowing in May when sowing the clover and plantain. That worked quite well, but I also got a contractor to come and spray strips of SE14 at 20L/ha ($140/ha). In the photo below, the left half of the photo was sprayed, and the right half wasn't. I can't see any benefit unfortunately. Those lush clumps are what was already wet in the soil and the lower growth areas are way behind in growth because they have only wet up in July. I'm going to try a few heavier fertiliser strips to see if I can get the pastures to even up.

This was one of the non-wetting problem paddocks. A strip of foliar applied soil wetter has not worked (left half of the photo).

Another increasing problem has been the squirts (scours), especially in the trade sheep we have been buying to fatten up and sell. They are in a rotation on the back half of the farm. We have improved our drenching on their arrival and vaccinations, which has helped a little so far, but not enough. So with the lush pastures only getting bigger and lusher in the coming months, we are trying giving oaten hay rolls to each mob as roughage to slow the rumen down. In the photo below is a paddock holding 280 trade sheep that are going on a truck in the coming week. So far, they like the hay far more than the ultrawhites.

Also in the photo below is the other problem I still don't have a solution for yet. Capeweeds. I can't spray graze because there is plantain sown in every paddock. We don't have a boom spray but I will push harder to see if we can get a contractor to come and spray a few trial strips of Jaguar, Broadstrike and combo's of those to see if we can get the capeweeds down while not hurting the rest of the pasture too much.

Trialling some hay for roughage to slow the rumen down.

The photo below shows the laneway in the foreground, and the largest ewe mob (ultrawhites and dorper/ultrawhites - 981 ewes and lambs, 41 rams and a few dozen lambs yet to be marked). The problem arising is our struggle to find enough sheep. Our stocking rate on the front half of the farm is ~34DSE/ha and rising as the lambs grow. We have, hopefully, another 700-800 ultrawhite ewe lambs coming next week, which will get us over 40DSE's, but also next week after we sell more trade sheep, we will only have ~361 trade sheep left on 90ha's, and most of those will be heavy enough to be sold in ~2 weeks. Our agents are trying very hard to find more trade sheep for us, but we might have to just keep accumulating new season ewe lambs.

Each week lately we are buying 100-250 ultrawhite ewe lambs (green tags), and most are really nice. Available numbers of these are increasing while trade sheep are decreasing. If we keep growing our ewe numbers, it will decrease our cashflow for awhile, but in the long term will increase our profit potential. We might be only 2-3 weeks away where we start running 3 mobs of ewes all lambing at different times. We currently have two mobs with the second one due to finish lambing in the first week of September. The biggest mob finished lambing a few weeks ago and has rams in there due to come out on 1st September (so first lambs due in December).

By the next blog update, we should know if we are switching to 3 ewe mobs. If the agents suddenly find 2,000 store (trade) lambs to fatten up, we'll stay with our current structure. If they can't find them, we'll buy at least another 1,000 green tag ultrawhite ewe lambs and start running three mobs (plus rams and weaners).

By the way, we recently had the farm valued and accurately assessed for arable area from the satellites. We have 185.1 hectares arable out of 237ha total.

Our largest lambing mob that has finished lambing, has 41 rams in there with them, and lambs will be weaned in a few weeks time.

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