It's time to tailor grazing plans to your lambing targets
After a difficult year for growing grass and the subsequent fodder deficit on a lot of farms, especially in the southern and eastern counties, it is now time to start thinking about next spring's grass.
Ireland has one major competitive advantage when it comes to sheep production and that is our ability to grow grass.
Early spring grass will have a limited amount of energy stored in its root system and therefore growth depends on the amount of green leaf present to capture the energy from the sun.
The more leaf that is present the more energy will be captured and the higher the growth rate will be. This is why fields that are grazed bare throughout the winter are very slow to recover in the spring.
So in order to maximize the amount of grass that is available next spring, a plan should be put in place.
Grazing out fields as bare as possible allows light down to the base of the grass plant and encourages tillering.
It also prevents old grass from decaying over the winter and smothering the grass underneath. In order to give the field a chance to recuperate and produce a crop for grazing next spring, a rest period of at least 120 days is required in the case of a good ryegrass sward. It's even longer for pastures that have less productive grass in them.
The date on which you should start closing off ground is dictated by your lambing date.