Skinny Lambs

For the last couple of months the lambs we have been selling haven’t had the fat cover that we like to see. This is a result rather unusual seasonal conditions. We had a particularly dry autumn, which meant that, coming into winter, the grass wasn’t really growing. This is not such a problem, as there was lots of dry feed (what we call “standing hay”) in the paddocks. This should provide the sheep with their energy needs through the winter, until the spring grasses start growing.

We then had the wettest winter anyone can remember. While this sets us well for the spring, it rotted the standing hay, so the lambs have only had access to the green winter grasses. These grasses are high in protein, but during winter, the lambs require more carbohydrate for maintenance. We’ve tried to keep them in paddocks which have plenty of roughage and they’ve stayed healthy, but they have used up all their fat reserves in the process.

When lean lambs are hung in the coolroom, they don’t “set” properly. This means the meat doesn’t become as firm as it should, and it becomes hard to cut, especially chops, which go through a saw.

This month we are going to start on the new lambs, who are about 10 or 11 months old. They have been out with the main flock in a large scrubby paddock which has handled the wet conditions better. They look a lot better than their older siblings, so we’ll bring them home and start on them. With what looks like a very good spring arriving, we expect things to pick up pretty quickly.

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