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Athenry Research Centre

Sheep Research Demonstration Farm, Athenry - 29-11-22

Philip Creighton, Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Teagasc Athenry, Co Galway.

Sward production for 2022 to date and lamb drafting pattern are shown in tables 1 and 2. We had to introduce concentrate supplementation at a rate of 500g/hd/day in early October due to low grass DM% and declining lamb ADG. Any lambs remaining on the farm in late October were housed due to the very wet conditions and to conserve grass for ewes. These lambs were built up to ad lib concentrates with access to high quality baled silage.

As can be seen in table 2 the majority of lambs have now been drafted. Closing of paddocks commenced in mid-October to build grass for next spring. We currently have approximately 70 and 80% of the farmlets closed for the winter. This is ahead of target but again due to the poor weather conditions which we have experienced ewes moved through lower DM swards faster and utilisation levels also suffered.  Average farm cover currently ranges between 700 to 900 kg DM/ha.

 Table 1. Average DM yield 2022 to date


  Table 2. Lamb drafting pattern Autumn 2022


Grass10 Teagasc Sheep Open Day June 18th 2022

Our Teagasc Sheep Open Day takes place this Saturday 18th June from 10am to 4pm. On the day, we will be dealing with all the main areas important to Irish sheep production with a mix of technical presentations and interactive workshops and demonstrations. From a grassland point of view we will be presenting results from the white clover systems trial as well as the other companion forages component work ongoing for the last number of years. We have been investigating their potential to enhance animal performance and deal with the economic and environmental challenges facing the sheep sector.

In addition, a series of workshops and interactive demonstrations will deal with topical issues relating to each of the main areas of sheep production with a special emphasis this year on the current challenges around Feed and Fertiliser costs and steps that can be taken to address this issue. Demonstrations on clover over-sowing, grazing management practices to maximise lamb performance and sward production and the tools and reports available from Pasturebase Ireland to make grazing management decisions easier will take place on the day. We are delighted to be able to host in person events again and this will be a day not to be missed for anyone involved in the sheep industry.

The open day is free to attend and all are welcome!

For more at https://www.teagasc.ie/news--events/national-events/events/sheepopenday.php

Athenry Update 15-02-22, Philip Creighton

Spring Grazing Management

  • Over winter growth has been good averaging approx. 7.5 kgDM/ha/day.
  • Average farm cover is averaging 725 kgDM/ha. (~6cm)
  • We are delaying N application until Late Feb/Early March for two reasons
    • Farm cover ahead of normal so don’t need to boost on to reach target (avg SR on farm is 12 ewes/ha, target opening cover is ~750kg DM/ha)
    • Response rate to N applied should be higher with later application 
  • With increase in fertiliser N prices it will be more important than ever to get a grazing rotation going as soon as possible after turnout to maximise grass regrowth potential. Diagram 1, below, is our spring grazing planner.

Newsletter 15-02-22

  • Early March lambing flock, five grazing divisions per group of sheep
  • Adjust based on lambing date and grass growth
  • Two grazing groups at start (1sthalf of ewes lambed go to paddock 1 and 2nd half lambed go to paddock 2). These should be the paddocks that were closed first and can carry the sheep for a longer period to allow mothering up and lambs to settle
  • Combine both groups paddock 3
    • Lambs 2-3 weeks old when grouping
    • Trying to get the balance right between what is best for the grass but most importantly what is best for the sheep and young lambs in particular
  • If moving faster through the farm sign that grass is tight, need to consider supplementing to slow rotation
  • Groups combined from end March - faster regrowth's on paddocks to meet grass demand in second rotation ‘It takes grass to grow grass’