Autumn grazing plan: This week’s sheep feature focuses on autumn and winter grazing management. The importance of closing up ground earmarked for early grazing next spring is demonstrated by a quick look at grass demand. A ewe will require in the region of 1.2kg to 1.5kg DM per day at present compared to 2.4kg to 2.5kg DM per day for a twin-suckling ewe turned out to grass 24 to 48 hours after lambing, rising to 3.2kg to 3.5kg DM five weeks into lactation. Therefore, it is critical that ground is closed in sufficient time to have a supply of grass available next spring which in turn will reduce costs and labour.
Teagasc advice on closing targets for flocks operating a mid-season lambing enterprise at a medium-to-high stocking rate (10 to 12 ewes per hectare) is to have 20% of the farm closed by late October, 40% by mid-November, 60% by late November and 80% by mid-December. This will typically provide a rest period of 120 days giving paddocks first closed an opportunity to have a reasonable cover of grass on swards while growth is still relatively good.