Sheep advice: Laying the foundations for 2017 grass
The notable drop in temperature and the shortening day length is taking its toll on grass growth at Lyons Research Farm, with daily grass growth reduced by more than 50pc since my last article.
It was running at 20kg DM per ha per day at the time of writing. Paddocks are being closed in rotation now as they are grazed out to 4cm-4.25cm. The first paddocks closed are showing good regrowth, but the temptation to regraze these must be avoided.
This grass is of more value in the spring time and we need to be cognisant of slow onset of grass growth in the spring also.
The majority of grass available for spring turnout is grown prior to December 1. We will need an average farm cover for turnout in mid-March of 820 kg DM per ha. With moderate spring growth on this site, we are looking at a closing farm cover of approximately 580kg DM per ha.
An extra complicating factor in our management is the synchronised lambing pattern we employ. This means 80pc-85pc of the ewes will lamb within a seven to 10 day period in March, so grass demand is switched on rapidly in spring. We do not want to be short of grass in such a scenario.
In the last few years, many farmers are also reporting ewes lambing in a very compact pattern, largely due to the better condition score when going to the ram, which in turn is reflecting better grass supply in the pre-mating period.
For these farmers, this also means there is a rapid onset of grass demand in spring time.
Lambs were drafted last Wednesday and 27 were sent to the factory on Friday. This leaves us with 73 lambs to be finished or just over 10pc of the lamb flock.