Teagasc Virtual Sheep Week: Grassland management for sheep systems

The Teagasc Virtual Sheep Week kicks off today (Monday, September 21) with a focus on grassland management for sheep systems covering the key areas that can contribute to improved grass production, utilisation and ultimately profitable lamb production at farm level.

Join Teagasc’s live interactive webinar this evening at 7:00pm with specialists, researchers and guest speakers on: www.teagasc.ie/virtualsheepweek; or Teagasc Facebook; or follow #VirtualSheepWeek on social media for information and advice on a wide range of topics that will help you improve grass production, utilisation and profitable lamb production at farm level.

This evening’s panel discussion will be led by Damian Costello, sheep specialist, Teagasc Athenry, with panellists Philip Creighton, Teagasc Athenry; Micheál O’Leary, Teagasc Moorepark; and John O’Connell, Teagasc Sheep BETTER farmer from Co. Leitrim.

Philip will focus on the impact of incorporating white clover and other forages into sheep-grazed swards on the productivity of pasture-based lamb production systems with special focus on the animal, environmental and economic impacts.

Micheál will outline the benefits of using PastureBase such as how it can allow you to keep track of grass growth in each paddock, the number of grazings per paddock and the quantity of grass being consumed at each grazing.

Special guest, John O’Connell, a Teagasc sheep BETTER farmer and current Sheep Grassland Farmer of the Year, will describe how he has applied the latest grassland management technologies on his farm, including changes to grazing management practices, creating more paddocks, measuring grass and putting an autumn grazing plan in place.

Topics covered today

Soil fertility

Productive soils underpin any successful farming system. Pastures will not perform to their potential if soil fertility is not correct. Hear how correcting soil fertility can maximise your return from grazed grass.

What is the optimum number of divisions for sheep systems?

Rotational grazing systems offer greater flexibility in grassland management by providing increased control over sward structure, grazing severity, regrowth periods and overall pasture supply.

Learn how dividing the grassland area into a number of paddocks, which are then grazed, fertilised and rested in turn and can allow greater levels of herbage utilisation to be achieved.

Grazing management

During the main grazing season, the objective is to achieve high animal performance from an all-grass diet. This is achieved by ensuring there is a high quantity of leaf in the sward.

Find out how grazing lower grass covers will help maintain grass quality, but stronger covers should be conserved as high-quality baled silage.

Grass measurement/budgeting

With the basic building blocks of soil fertility, infrastructure and management in place the next step to getting more from grass is to develop your grass measurement and budgeting skills.

There are a number of methods that can be used to measure grass supply on farms that don’t need to be complicated or expensive. Find out what method would suit you best to aid grassland management decisions on your farm.

For more information on Virtual Sheep Week, visit: www.teagasc.ie/virtualsheepweek.