Dugdale Nutrition’s John Hickson offers advice for dealing with store lamb production and sales.
When the faster growing flocks have been finished and sold, farmers are often left with a number of lesser conditioned lambs to be concerned with. To some extent they are an afterthought, but a little extra care and attention can pay dividends. “The production of store lambs requires a high lambing percentage, as two store lambs sold at £55/head is better than one finished lamb sold for £80” says Mr Hickson.
Here’s how to make the best of selling your store lambs:
Store lamb buyers are looking to purchase much larger batches of evenly matched animals to suit their individual finishing systems. A little extra time spent preparing lambs will benefit sales.
Store buyers are placing an increased emphasis on the health status of lambs and will be looking for records of worming, vaccinations and regulatory requirements, including pre-sale dipping.
Deal with any mineral/trace element problems BEFORE they leave your farm. Remember to tell your buyer this has been done.
A well-presented lamb is more likely to sell. Make sure flocks have been dagged as necessary and any dirt has been removed.
Store lamb finishing systems will vary, from those aiming to finish over a few weeks to those up to about 150 days.
As store lambs are widely used for grassland management on dairy farms, they may well need to be finished and away in time to ensure they can be put on spring grass with dairy herds.
There is increasing interest from large scale arable units making greater use of grass breaks for weed control, soil structure and fertility.
Grass will always be the cheapest feed, but there may also be a case for a little creep feeding or finishing in the sheds.
It is recommended to feed some of the housed ration outdoors for a week or two before housing to make the process as simple as possible.
A satisfied purchaser with confidence in you and your sheep is most likely to be a recurring customer and, hopefully, pay a premium for your store lambs. A simple follow up phone call can make a big difference.