Dealing with drought takes centre stage at SHEEP 2018

Thousands of farmers descended on Teagasc Athenry for today’s SHEEP 2018 event and managing through the drought that’s currently grasping the country was one of the first topics up for discussion.

As part of the grassland village, Teagasc’s Dr. Philip Creighton offered farmers some practical advice on how to manage with slowed grass growth rates.

Creighton – a research officer – noted that it’s quite challenging currently to match the supply of grass with its demand. But, he pointed out a number of steps farmers can take to reduce the demand on their farms.

Methods of reducing demand during a drought:
  • Wean lambs to reduce the daily grass demand;
  • Tighten up ewes and place them on a maintenance diet;
  • Prioritise what grass is available to the lambs in the order of after grass – which would be the highest-quality, leafy grass – and then the remaining grass on the farm;
  • Get rid of any passengers in terms of cull ewes now;
  • Keep drafting lambs as they’re fit.

Creighton also advised farmers to ration out the grass they currently have and they may need to supplement lambs and/or ewes.

If drought conditions persist to >60mm soil moisture deficit, it is advised to delay nitrogen (N) applications until rain is forecast.