Sheep: Lamb growth rate is down on last year as weather takes toll
The more things change, the more they stay the same. This time last year we were worrying about grass growth on the experimental platform. This year we are in slightly better shape as we had more grass at turnout, but anything which was grazed is very slow to recover.
Soil temperature has dropped on the Smart Grass site from 7C in early April to a low of 5C on April 11. This is borderline for grass growth and is reflected in grass growth grates of just 13kg/DM/ha on the perennial ryegrass (PRG) and the PRG and white clover swards.
The multi species swards are doing better with growth rates of 30kg/DM/ha in the week to April 11. While this helps in the short term, it is just a comparison over a single week and is not indicative of overall performance.
Average figures can be very misleading and there is wide variation in these growth rates. The PRG paddocks grazed this spring are only growing at a rate of 7kg/DM/day while the paddocks not grazed since closing are growing at 21kg/DM/ha.
There is still adequate grass supply available so we are not supplementing concentrates and with warmer weather forecast grazing should improve in the coming week.
This low grass growth rates on the hill at Lyons is in contrast to the dairy platform which grew 46kg/DM/ha per day during the same week.
Much of the difference is linked to elevation and aspect of the hill site, though there was also slightly higher nitrogen application on the dairy platform.
However with the low soil temperatures and high rainfall on the hill ground there is little benefit to nitrogen application until soil temperature increases.