Sheep: Act now to avoid costly grazing issues next spring
With the last lot of ewes in-seminated on October 15, we let out the rams to catch any repeat ewes last week. The repeats should start to show signs of heat 17 days after their last cycle. Hopefully we will not have too many ewes repeating.
All went well at AI with good weather since and plenty of grass. We are optimistic about getting a high conception rate of around 80pc.
At this time of year when you maintain grass, farmers attention turns to next spring. On a sheep farmers diary, enough grass for the ewes with lambs next spring is of the utmost importance.
Due to our geographic location we can grow more grass, in addition being able to extend the grazing season in early spring and late winter. This gives us a major competitive advantage over our European farming colleagues. We should be taking full advantage by maximising animal performance from grazed grass. Grazed grass is the cheapest and most convenient feed available.
So how do we save enough grass in spring. Understanding how the grass plant works is key when planning your grazing programme.
The phrase 'it takes grass to grow grass' is very true. Grass grows by using energy from sunlight which then converts to sugars in the plant. The energy from the sunlight is trapped in the leaves so the more leaf that is present the more the grass will grow in the spring time.
Another thing to remember is that the grass plant needs time to regenerate - about 120 days for ryegrass swards; older swards with less productive grass will take a few weeks longer.
Paddocks should be well grazed out at closure. Leaving heavy covers over the winter period will result in much of the grass dying and rotting leading to bare patches in the spring. It is absolutely essential that once a field is closed up for the winter it remains closed.