The lucrative Ramadan market may be the gold at the end of the rainbow but is everyone thinking the same?
Lambing in winter has its benefits. A lamb born in December of January is ready for market sooner and if you are on time you can get a good price. Well that’s what I used to think but the last two years have proved to be a finicial pitfall with the expected prices of 90-100 euro not coming for my winter born lambs.
It wasn’t that they were bad lambs, no, they got the best of everything, my richly guarded hay, nuts for the ewes, dosing and creep feeding but in the end prices were bad and some of the lambs were sold dead cheap.
This year I’m trying a new method. I’ve been reading The Shepard’s Life a wonderful book by sheep farmer James Rebanks who farms in the Lake District in England. Winters there are fierce and he doesn’t let his lambs to the ram until November. (James spoke with That’s Farming on our radio show a few months ago you can listen to him here.)
Talking with neighbours and more experienced sheep men I decided to let my ram, a Texel, to my Suffolk ewes in mid October. This will bring me a March lamb its something Im looking forward to for many reasons.
- The grass will be growing in the fields, so ewes can go out straight away.
- I’m cutting down on hay and nut usage as ewes wont need to be housed as soon making a big saving in my pocket
- creep feeding will need to be less because again ive got the grass and my lamb can be supplementing his feeding with it
- Timing is everything. I’m looking not at the spring market in Ireland but the Ramadan market in the Near East. If I can hit it right which I think I can the Muslim festival will fall when my lambs are hitting that 44kg weight and I should be in the money.
It all sounds like logical sense? The only thing is I’m not the only farmer doing this. So many of my neighours in Longford who are farming sheep have moved to a later lamb date. Why? Well the last winters have been so hard that our profits were literally dying in the fields.
I’ve got a lower stock density on the home farm so we are out wintering our ewes. Its reducing housing and feeding costs and if needed I can always supplement their winter grazing. The last few months of mild weather has lead to grass growth still happening so the lands are not overgrazed and I’ve paddocks left fallow and resting now for the winter which will be ready for the winter.
The draw back of course of winter grazing is slow spring yield but it’s a chance I’m taking this year. Hopefully Ramadan will be good and we can cash in on Muhammed and co.