Clement Lynch runs an upland and hill sheep unit at Park, Co Derry. Despite farming in the Sperrin Mountains, he has been focusing on improving grassland management to drive lamb performance.
In early May, Clement undertook a major re-fencing project on the grazing ground surrounding the home farm.
Two fields covering 12 acres have been divided into seven paddocks. Fencing is a combination of stock-proof wire, reusable metal Versalock posts, as well as plastic posts and electric wire.
The job was carried out by Clement, with additional help coming from a neighbour. The position of fences is deliberate to provide paddocks of similar grazing area.
Grazing allocations were measured using DAERA online field software, which farmers can access to complete BPS claims or field area alterations.
The job was finished three weeks ago and since then, it has performed beyond Clement’s expectations despite limited grass growth in May.
There are plans in place to replicate a similar setup on other areas of the farm this summer. An overview of the fencing setup is outlined.
Versalok fence posts and stock-proof wire
The field boundaries and two permanent internal fences were installed using stock-proof wire and two strands of barb.
However, rather than using conventional wooden posts or 25-year guarantee posts, Clement opted for the Versalok fencing post, a lightweight steel post system with a 30-year guarantee.
The Versalock post came in 6ft lengths and was placed at 2.7m spacing. Posts have multiple fixing points, with wire fixed using a clip (Picture 2), which can be removed and reused.
In total, 500 posts were used at a cost of £3.80 per unit (€4.41), just 20p/unit more than price quotes on the long-life wooden posts, according to Clement.
The wire clips were an additional 20p/unit. Six clips per post were used on internal fences and seven clips used on boundary fences.
When setting up a defined paddock system, water provision is always an issue. Five 20 gallon double drinkers were installed at a cost of £35 each (€41) and positioned to service multiple paddocks. Water piping is 25mm diameter and 560m was used to connect up the water supply at a cost of £246 (€286).
Additional internal fences make use of electric wire and plastic posts for the shorter spans needed to divide paddocks.
As the fence has a short span to perimeter points, a single geared reel with 500m of wire is used. The reel is wound back and forward to provide five strands of wire, rather than using multiple reels to provide five single wires on the same fence.
The wire is tensioned at each end using insulators fixed to a strainer. A reel and 500m of wire cost approximately £50 (€58), with plastic posts costing £1 per unit (€1.16).
To allow sheep to pass from paddock to paddock with ease, as well as allowing machinery between paddocks for fertiliser spreading and other tasks, Clement opted to install gates.
This was a much more practical option compared to unclipping electric wire at the fence perimeters.
Solar fencing unit
Power is supplied to the electric fence using a solar battery unit fixed to a strainer.
The battery unit is raised to prevent damage, shading from grass and can be moved as necessary. The unit cost £170 (€198).
Increased stocking rate
Since completing the job, the paddocks have increased stock-carrying capacity.
Currently, there are 60 ewes with single lambs and 66 ewes with twins grazing the 12 acre block. Nitrogen was applied three weeks ago, with one bag/acre of urea spread.
Stock performance has been exceptional, with single lambs averaging 370g/day from birth to 52 days of age. Twin lambs have averaged 330g/day at 55 days of age.
Post-weaning, Clement is planning to put dry ewes on to less productive ground and graze more lambs on the paddocks to drive weight gain over the summer.