Reminder: Teagasc BETTER sheep farm walk heads to Leitrim

Teagasc, the agriculture and food development authority, will host a BETTER Farm sheep walk in Co. Leitrim tomorrow.

This is the second farm walk in the series and it takes place on John O’Connell’s farm in Ballinamore, Co. Leitrim tomorrow, July 19.

The BETTER Farm Sheep Programme is led from Athenry by Michael Diskin and Frank Campion and has been developed in collaboration with Teagasc sheep specialists.

Last year, O’Connell lambed 200 mature ewes and 50 replacement ewe lambs. The ewes had a scanning rate of two lambs per ewe joined and the ewe lambs carried 1.1 lambs per ewe joined.

The introduction of prolific sires has helped to increase production on the farm and achieve an output level of more than 1.6 lambs weaned per ewe joined.

Lambing on O’Connell’s farm kicks off in mid-March and most of the lambs, with the exception of replacement ewe lambs, are pushed to slaughter.

O’Connell currently farms on two blocks consisting of 34ha in total; along with running the sheep enterprise, he also contract rears heifers for dairy farmers.

Previously, O’Connell had operated dairy and pig production systems and in recent years he has focused on both the sheep and contract rearing enterprises.

The farm walk will kick off at 2:00pm and along with a focus on O’Connell’s system, Teagasc sheep specialists will also discuss grassland management, breeding and lamb performance targets.

Grassland management

Teagasc experts will also give farmers an update on the best practices in grassland management. They will specifically focus on paddock grazing systems, soil fertility and reseeding programmes.

O’Connell will also outline the changes he has made on his farm to the grazing system and the resulting benefits he has seen.

Breeding and performance

Another key topic up for discussion at the events is breeding and performance. All of the lowland farmers involved in the programme have a target of weaning more than 1.6 lambs per ewe joined.

Presentations will be given on the importance of selecting rams on the basis of both the terminal and replacement indices.

Participating farmers are implementing an individual animal performance recording programme for all sheep on the farm. This is based on EID recording results.

Farmers visiting the open day will be given an update on ewe performance (litter size and mortality) and lamb performance.

Lamb weight is monitored at birth, seven weeks-of-age, 14 weeks-of-age and slaughter.

Knowledge Transfer approved sheep event

Farmers participating in the Knowledge Transfer (KT) scheme are required to attend five farm meetings or four meetings and one Department of Agriculture approved KT event.

The event outlined above has received approval from the Department of Agriculture and farmers participating in the KT scheme are encouraged to sign in with the department at the beginning of each event. Click here for more information on BETTER Farm Sheep Programme