Making the most of grass will be the key topic of discussion at the AgriSearch ‘Flock health and grassland walks’ taking place this September.

The walks will take place on The Crillys’ farm in Castlederg, Co. Tyrone and John Martin’s farm in Greyabbey, Co. Down.

Both farms currently participate in AgriSearch’s ‘Lamb from Grass’ or GrassCheck project.

The project involves the evaluation of four and eight paddock rotational grazing systems on-farm along with the weekly monitoring of grass growth and quality.

Monitoring data weekly aids both farms in making more effective grazing decisions and achieving optimum animal performance from grass throughout the season.

The Crillys

Isaac and Elizabeth Crilly operate a flock of 400 Belclare and New Zealand Suffolk cross-bred ewes on 26.4ha.

The farm’s primary focus is on breeding the correct maternal ewe for their mid-season lambing flock and maximising lamb performance from grass.

Breeding policies for the Crilly enterprise includes the introduction of New Zealand Suffolk genetics, which Isaac finds delivers lambs with good vigour at birth and high growth rates.

In an attempt to keep on top of numbers, ewe lambs are sold off-farm as breeding replacements, with remaining lambs finished to market specification.

The walk will take place on Monday, September 10 at 7 Fort Road, Lislaird. Registration will begin at 6:00pm with the walk commencing at 6:30pm sharp.

John Martin

John runs a flock of 680 Belclare and Highlander cross ewes on 72ha with a breeding regime that expands throughout the year.

Martin lambs an early batch in mid-January of 150 ewes, a mid-season batch of 315 ewes and 150 ewe lambs in mid-March.

John Martin from Greyabbey

The farm in recent years has dramatically improved the lamb output through the use of new genetics and rotational grazing.

This has allowed Martin to reduce the use of creep feeding to lambs and achieve better performance from grass.

The walk will take place on Tuesday, September 11 at Gordonall Farms, 93 Newtownards Road, Greyabbey. Registration will begin at 4:30pm with the walk commencing at 5:00pm.

More Information

Attendees at the event will have the opportunity to hear speakers debate a wide range of pressing issues in the sheep industry to date.

Some of the topics that will be discussed on both days will include:

  • Grazing management and flock performance to-date on the farms;
  • The GrassCheck project;
  • How to best future-proof worm control on your farm by Lesley Stubbings;
  • Guidance on assessing ewe body condition at tupping time;
  • The development of a flock health plan for your farm;
  • Pre-tupping ram ‘MOT’ checks;
  • Winter feeding options and forage budgeting.

In the interests of biosecurity, those attending are asked to wear clean clothing not previously worn while in direct contact with their own animals.

Outdoor work boots should not be worn. Protective overalls and footwear will be provided on the day.