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Maximising lamb performance from grass

May 10, 2021

Maximising lamb performance from grass was the theme for the latest Northern Ireland Sheep Programme (NISP) webinar on Thursday 6th May featuring the Mayers family from Tempo, Co Fermanagh

The Northern Ireland Sheep Programme (NISP) was launched in May 2019 and is a joint collaboration between the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), Dunbia and the Irish Farmers Journal. 

Senan White, NISP Manager (CAFRE) noted how Roy and Marilyn Mayers and family are one of the ten participating farms across Northern Ireland.  The farms also reflect the diverse nature of the sheep sector, with significant variation in flock size, systems operated, land type and breed profile.

“The aim of the three-year programme is to improve technical efficiency and sustainability through the adoption of best practice management techniques and using the latest technologies available” described Senan White.

This latest event featured the Mayers family who are strongly focused on driving the performance of their sheep flock through improved grazing management.  Speaking recently Roy Mayers stated: “The NI Sheep Programme has helped us to focus on some main farm goals.  We have looked at increasing our lambing percentage and ultimately ewe numbers to a sustainable number for the farm, which we have just about achieved.  However, when we looked at our financial performance with Senan, one of our other main goals on the farm was to reduce costs, and especially meal costs.  We had being experimenting with some paddock grazing but the programme really helped us focus on this and we have found the use of paddock grazing to be the most important aspect to drive production efficiently.” 

Commenting, Marilyn Mayers said: “We are in the process of paddocking the whole farm and would encourage other sheep farmers to give it a go.  It is relatively cheap and easy to set up and the sheep get used to it remarkably quickly.  Using the paddock system, we are also measuring grass and have found that we are growing more grass as the system encourages us to graze the paddocks correctly, move the sheep on and by letting the paddocks rest, they recover quicker.  This and the continued inclusion of clover in our reseeds is beginning to make a difference.”

The event also featured the practical steps the Mayers undertake in setting up their paddocks which was featured in a video on the night.

For further information on the programme and to see the recording of the event please visit: https://www.cafre.ac.uk/business-support/agriculture/sheep/northern-ireland-sheep-programme/