The strong grass growth rates in recent weeks is providing an opportunity for sheep farmers to set their farm up to be in a better position to insulate their enterprises from rising fertiliser costs and also rising concentrate prices.

To achieve this, target farmers must abide by the recommended closing targets, so that there is a sufficient volume of grass present to sustain ewes and lambs until normal grass growth kicks in in spring 2022.

The recommended closing targets for a March lambing flock, stemming from Teagasc research, is 20% of the grazing area closed by mid-October, 40% by mid-November, 60% by the end of November, 80% by mid-December and the remainder as it is grazed.

Given the tightness of fertiliser supplies and how prices have escalated, it is worth closing a higher percentage of ground to reduce the pressure on needing to apply the same volume of fertiliser next spring.

Failing to adopt these practices will leave your system totally exposed to fertiliser costs and concentrate costs. At current prices, there is a three- to four-fold potential saving from having sufficient grass supplies available next spring.