It’s important to implement a fall graduation plan—and stick to it

Shane Moore is focused on next year’s weed at his fragmented farm near Athleague, Co. Roscommon, and he’s ready to implement a fall completion plan.

Addocks are closed alternately from mid to late October, beginning with those marked first for grazing the following spring.

Closing the paddocks in good time and closing them until spring ensures that there will be sufficient grass available the next spring after lambing begins.

The first paddocks will be closed from mid to late October, with the goal of closing 20 percent of the farm by the end of the month, 40 percent by mid-November, 60 percent by the end of November, and 80 percent by mid-December.

There will be a temptation to re-graze closed fields in December and January to delay placement of ewes, but this must be ignored as grass is worth much more to newly lambed ewes in spring than it is in mid-pregnancy.

In recent years, Shane – who runs his flatland sheep operation alongside a cattle weaning system – has put a lot of work into developing the grazing infrastructure to allow for sustainable expansion of the ewe herd while maximizing the performance of the grass being grazed.

The quantity and quality of grass grown has improved, with temporary fencing being used throughout the year to adjust paddock size to meet requirements.

So far this year the farm has planted an average of 10.9 tDM/ha, with 97 kg N/ha being spread between chemical fertilizer and liquid manure using a drag hose.

Grass cultivation is ahead of this time last year thanks to improvements in soil fertility and grazing.

The land owned by Shane is divided into two main blocks 5km apart with an additional block of 4ha for rent. The land consists mainly of good, well-draining soils and includes a border zone normally grazed only by cattle.

Shane is a participant in the Teagasc Signpost Program and was a finalist in last year’s Grass 10 Grassland Farmer of the Year.

Finally lambs are run in two groups, with the heavier lambs (>38kg) receiving 500g/head/day concentrate and the rest on grass only.

Over half the lambs have been fed and the remainder exercise regularly, growing an average of 190g/day in July and August.


So far this year, the farm has grown an average of 10.9 t DM/ha with 97 kg N application/ha

Ewe lambs retained for breeding are also run separately and are weighed prior to mating and scored for body condition (BCS). All those weighing over 45 kg are transferred to Charollais rams two weeks after the rams have been placed with the adult ewes.

The adult ewes are placed with rams for five weeks on October 7 after being weighed and treated with BCS. Thin ewes were separated two months ago and are fed preferentially.

Any that BCS failed to recover are culled as this indicates an underlying problem.

At the end of the five weeks, rams are raised from all ewes to keep lambing time compact and to balance Shane’s off-farm work and other on-farm work.

In August, the anthelmintic resistance status of the 2-LV: Levamisole (Yellow Group) and 3-ML: Macrocyclic Lactone (Clear Group) drenches was evaluated on the farm by conducting a faecal egg reduction test.

The criterion is that the number of fecal oocytes should be reduced by >95% from before to after administration. The levamisole was reduced by 97 percent, but the macrocyclic lactone dropped slightly to 94.5 percent.

These results form the basis of Shane’s dosing schedules; It is a vital measure that all farms must implement to prevent the development of anthelmintic resistance.

Frank Campion is a Teagasc Research Associate based at Mellows Campus, Co. Galway It’s important to implement a fall graduation plan—and stick to it

Fry Electronics Team

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