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Grass10 Clover Report

Dr Deirdre Hennessy and Hannah Irish give an update on Moorepark Grass-Clover Research covering closing management this autumn and performance for year to date across the different trials. Philip Creighton gives an update from the Sheep Research Demonstration Farm at Athenry

Teagasc Moorepark Grass-Clover Research Update

The grass-white clover research programme at Teagasc Moorepark is comparing herbage and milk production from three pasture-based systems, all stocked at a whole farm stocking rate of 2.6 cows/ha. The three experimental treatments are:

  • grass-only receiving 225 kg N/ha
  • grass-white clover receiving 150 kg N/ha
  • grass-white clover receiving 150 kg N/ha in an alternative N application strategy.

Paddocks in the grass-white clover treatment receiving 150 kg N/ha in an alternative N application strategy received N fertiliser every second rotation from May to August. In the other grass-clover treatment N was applied in every rotation.

Herbage production on the Grass225 treatment was 14.5 t DM/ha, on the Clover150 was 14.5 t DM/ha and on the Clover150Alternative was 14.8 t DM/ha. Average sward clover content to early November was 20% on both clover treatments. Cumulative milk solids yield per cow to 20 November was 492 kg on Grass225, 509 kg on Clover150 and 511 kg on Clover150Alternative.

We reseeded 12.5% of the farmlets at the start of May and over-sowed 8% at the end of March.

Sheep Research Demonstration Farm, Athenry

Philip Creighton Researcher AthenrySward production for 2022 to date and lamb drafting pattern are shown in tables 1 and 2 below. 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 belowthe 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

TreatmentGrass only - 125 kg N/haGrass Clover - 125 kg N/haGrass Clover - 75 kg N/ha
DM yield - Tons DM/ha 11.5 12.1 11.4

 Table 2. Lamb drafting pattern Autumn 2022

 % lambs drafted end Oct% lambs drafted end  Nov
Grass only 75 91
Grass Clover 85 94