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Sheep Grassland Management

Sheep Grassland Management

CAFRE has currently recruited four technology demonstration farms who will demonstrate the selected essential technologies to visiting groups of farmers.

Group bookings must be made through CAFRE.
Telephone: 028 9442 6790

Dale Orr CAFRE TDF farmer

Dale Orr, Strangford, Co. Down

Dale runs a flock of 460 purebred Lleyn ewes, 100 suckler cows and 150 growing and finishing beef animals. Lambing takes place from early March to the end of April. Dale breeds his own replacements and supplies lambs to the Tesco ‘cost of production’ (COP) scheme. Dale has increased the area of mixed species swards from 25 acres in 2018 to 50 acres and has sown another 20 acres sown this year. He manages his rotational grazing by using a combination of livestock weights (to calculate demand) and historic grass growth data. Groups of ewes and lambs graze 5acre paddocks and are moved every 5-6 days. Target entry and exit covers are 2800kgDM/ha and 1600kgDM/ha.

Crosby Cleland CAFRE TDF Farmer

Crosby Cleland, Saintfield, Co. Down

Crosby runs a flock of 800 ewes with Lleyn and Aberfield as the two main maternal sires to produce his own replacements. Lambing takes place during March. Crosby is a member of the Strangford Down lamb group which sells lambs to Linden Foods. Benchmarking is used to record and monitor performance. Crosby rotationally grazes mobs of about 100 ewes through 2 acre paddocks, moving groups every 2-3 days. A platemeter is used to measure grass covers with a target entry cover of 2700kgDM/ha and exit cover target of 1700kgDM/ha. He has used a lot of data passed back to him and data recording on the farm to improve flock performance and has also helped to make buying on records very influential to a lot of people.

John Martin, Greyabbey, Co. Down

John runs a flock of 700 Highlander and Belclare cross ewes with some Aberfield genetics added in recent years. 160 of these lamb in mid January and 540 in mid March. John operates a rotational grazing system through 1-2 acre paddocks. Based on his platemeter calibration for dense swards John has target entry and exit covers of 3000kgDM/ha and 2000-2200kgDM/ha. John has also recently sown some mixed sward species which he hopes to graze this season.

Roger Bell, Kells, Co. Antrim

Roger runs a flock of 550 of predominantly Texel mule ewes with some Aberfield genetics added in recent years along with 40 finishing beef cattle. Lambing takes place from mid March to mid April. Sheep are grazed in two mobs of 250 ewes and are moved every 3-6 days depending on paddock size. Rogers entry and exit target covers are 2300kgDM/ha and 1600kgDM/ha. Roger finishes lambs from grass only and uses an automatic feeder for any pet lambs.

Clement Lynch, Park, Co. Derry/Londonderry

Clement Lynch runs a flock of 525 ewes on 60ha of grassland and 155ha of rough grazing and hill ground. Clement’s flock consists of Suffolk/Texel, Mule and Scottish Blackface ewes with ewe lambs retained and bred on the farm also. Clement’s farm is all classified SDA with a high reliance on upland hill grazing. In recent years he has undertaken significant investment to maximise the productivity of his “in bye” land through reseeding, draining and fencing. In 2021, Clement set up a paddock grazing system on farm, having previously tried rotational grazing. In 2022, the paddocks have increased from 7 to 18 with the block of land around the farmyard all now in a paddock system. Clement employs best practise management throughout his sheep flock using a number of technologies such as the rising plate meter and AgriNet software, Shearwell EID system, FEC sampling and use of performance recorded rams.

William Egerton, Rosslea, Co. Fermanagh

William Egerton farms along with his father, John Egerton and his brothers on 180 acres just outside Rosslea. The family farm consists of 90 suckler cows, 240 ewes, contract heifer rearing and a blade calf enterprise. William returned to the home farm a number of years ago, after working on a large sheep farm in Scotland. His focus is to develop and manage the sheep enterprise at home with grassland management and the efficient utilisation of grass, an essential part of the enterprise.

Of the 180 acres of grassland on the farm, William manages his flock of NZ Suffolk, Lleyn, Belclare and Mule ewes on 40 acres which has been split into paddocks. William uses regular soil testing, the CAFRE nutrient calculator, grass measurement, using a plate meter and Agrinet software to monitor the productivity of his grazing platform. This allows him to graze his sheep flock with the aim of achieving a high level of productivity from grass. The performance of his flock is measured regularly using EID weighing, Sheepware flock recording and Faecal Egg Counts.