‘Improving sheep farming profits’ Open Day in Comber

DO you want to find out how to play catch up once grass starts to grow?

Find out at a profit led sheep open day on April 14 hosted by Kevin and Anna McCarthy at Ballycreelly Road, Comber.

AFBI’s Dr Aurelie Aubry will be offering farmers advice on how it will be possible to maximize returns from this season’s stunted grass.

2018 is the year to start officially monitoring grass growth, says Dr Aubry – Why?

“Grass is the cheapest form of feed and if you are going to optimise its use in what’s going to be a shorter season, then monitoring and benchmarking will help you to manage it,” she explains.

“Measure by taking a leaf out of dairy farmers books and invest in a platemetre; it’s a great decision making tool that will pay dividends helping you to evaluate just how much grass is available. Once you’ve a better idea, then you can set meaningful targets, and respond more quickly, for example best time to apply nitrogen and best time to move on ewes and lambs – don’t graze covers any further than 1,500kg DM/ha.”

“Benchmark against AFBI’s GrassCheck project which provides weekly updates of grass growth and quality throughout the grazing season, and also weekly grass growth predictions.”

She continued: “Consider introducing rotational grazing

to improve both lamb and grass growth. Optimal st-ocking rate varies across farms and is usually between 10 and 15 ewes per hectare. Previous R&D findings have

demonstrated lamb perform-ance to improve by up to 30 per cent.

“And if you want to avoid risking grass shortages next season, then consider introducing an alternative crop this summer such as a brassica,” she said. “Brassicas can be used for lamb finishing from August onwards or ewe management over winter.”

The event will also feature the following presentations.

q Improving commercial lamb value by £3 a head, and increasing pedigree ram value by up to £400 a head – think performance recording: Cafre’s Dr Eileen McCloskey

q Maximising farm labour efficiency including the use of adequate and safe handling facilities: Dr McCloskey·

q Improving efficiency with sheep EID technology: Dr McCloskey and TGM’s George Megarry

q Meeting processors expect-ations: Dunbia’s George Will-iamson

q Scanner, William Tait will demonstrate ultra sound scanning.

Event chairman, NSA’s Ed-ward Adamson added: “This would be a very useful event for all sheep farmers to attend, both pedigree and commercial to find out more about how best to plan their enterprises to deliver maximum returns under future regimes.”

q Sheep Production – Maximise Your Returns will be held at Mossbank Farm, Ballycreelly Road, Comber BT23 5PX on Saturday, April 14, 1pm; hosts HDSBC IRL; speakers include reps from AFBI, CAFRE, Dunbia, NSA and TGM Software.

q Further information from Kevin McCarthy on 07785 325028.

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