Grassland Management (sheep)

CAFRE have recruites four technology demonstration farm who will demonstrate the selected essential technologies to visiting groups of farmers.

Farm 1 – 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.

Farm 2 – 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.

Farm 3 – 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.

Farm 4 – 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.