Tom Staunton: Quality of the sward key as farmers revel in post-famine feast
From famine to feast has been the trend so far this year in relation to grass supplies. I have gone from a very tight supply of grass during the spring to an abundance of grass at the moment.
This week I have been focusing on grassland management on my farm. The recent improvement in the weather has encouraged a high grass growth rate. Unless there is sufficient stock to keep the grass from growing too strong, the quality of the sward will drop as the grass will become too long and stemmy.
To resolve this problem I have reserved 10ac extra for silage and applied two bags of CAN per acre to this ground as it might come in handy come the winter.
I topped the remaining fields, which have grown too strong.
Topping promotes quality re-growth and it allows me to ensure I have a better, higher quality sward in front of the lambs that I have weaned, as they are now more reliant on it with the absence of the ewes.
I generally top the grass at a low level of approximately 4cm to 5cm because it allows for quality leafy re-growth. I find that topping any higher will not give as good a quality result.
The first draft of my French market lambs were sold last week at a price of €5.40/kg. The lambs sold ranged between 39kg and 45kg and they killed out at an average of 19kg.
This was approximately a 46pc kill out. The price is up 60c/kg on this time last year. The upcoming Muslim festival of Ramadan has a part to play in this.