TOM Grant prides himself in maintaining the highest standards of grassland management across his entire farm.
The former dairy farmer now manages a flock of 100 spring lambing ewes with all lambs brought through to finishing weights.
He farms at Killeen, just south of Newry. His commitment to maintaining the highest standards of output from grass is total, combining a rotational grazing system and cutting regimes to ensure that the management needs of the swards are met at all times.
He explained: “I re-seed on a regular basis. But in truth, it is one of the oldest swards on the farm that is the most productive.
“Effective weed control in grass land is crucially important. From sward management point of view this is my top priorty.”
The Grant flock comprises a mix of Suffolk and Texel-cross ewes. They are bred to a selection of Charollais and Texel rams.
“The plan is to lamb the flock during as tight a period as possible during the middle weeks of March,” Tom further explained.
“Taking this approach means that the sheep will be making best use of grass at all times of the year.”
However, Tom also recognises that grass, in its own right, is not the complete feed for sheep.
“Both the ewes and lambs will need supplementation at different times,” he confirmed.
“It is for this reason that I make available Crystalyx High Energy feed buckets to the sheep throughout the year.”
David Morgan, from Caltech Crystalyx, was a recent visitor to the Grant farm.
He confirmed that the number of sheep producers using Crystalyx High Energy feed blocks continues to increase at an exponential rate across Northern Ireland.
This has been particularly the case over the recent autumn months. Driving this trend is the growing recognition on the part of flock owners that these unique supplementary feed sources act to maintain body condition on ewes in the run-up to lambing.
David further explained: “The core challenge facing ewes under current circumstances is that of maximising forage intakes,” he explained.
“This is the key to allowing them secure the dry matter levels they need to meet their own nutritional needs and those of the lambs they are carrying.
“And it is in this context that the Crystalyx Extra High Energy feed blocks for sheep can play a crucial role.
“They represent a highly palatable and concentrated form of energy, high quality protein, minerals, trace elements and vitamins, acting to improve the efficiency of the rumen.
“At the very heart of this process is the stimulus given to the microbe populations in the rumen. In turn this speeds up the digestion process, thereby allowing ewes to increase their daily consumption levels of fresh grass. And this, of course, determines overall dry matter intakes.”
David explained that ewes must be kept in top condition in the run-up to lambing.
“Loss of condition while pregnant will jeopardise placental development and reduce body reserves available for milk production,” he said.
“Trials conducted at Newcastle University found that ewes with access to Crystalyx Extra High Energy maintained better condition than ewes on grass alone, and their lambs subsequently had a five per cent higher growth rate.
“Offering the High Energy tubs to ewes now will also have a very beneficial impact on the quality of the ewes’ milk post lambing. This reflects the quality of the protein contained within the feed blocks.
He concluded: “Crystalyx Extra High Energy is a feed block that can be used all year round to provide supplementation for ewes, rams and lambs. High in protein, energy and with a full complement of minerals, trace elements and vitamins, Extra High Energy and forage can be all that’s required to operate a highly effective and profitable sheep rearing system.
“A daily Extra High Energy feeding rate of 40-60g head will ensure that pre lambing ewes receive the level of nutrition they need, provided that adequate levels of forage are also made available. Moreover, the product has been proven on local sheep farms over many years.”
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