The final preparations are being put in place for the Teagasc National Sheep Open Day, which takes place on Saturday 18 June in the Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Athenry, Co Galway (eircode H65 R718).

Sheep enterprise leader in Mellows Campus Athenry Philip Creighton explains that the event offers those attending a great opportunity to see first-hand the research which has taken place in recent years.

“While the coronavirus pandemic curtailed visits for over two years at this stage, we were thankfully able to keep research programmes operating.

"Virtual events maintained a level of interaction, but there is nothing like seeing the latest research and technical advice from the Teagasc sheep programme in person and we look forward to opening our gates once again.

"With the escalation in input costs, there has never been a more important time to take stock of our enterprises and adopt the latest technologies available,” he said.

Four technical stands

The first of four technical stands covers sustainable systems and the research updates here are especially timely.

The role of clover swards and other companion forages will be discussed in light of their ability to enhance animal performance and go some way in dealing with economic and environmental challenges facing the sheep sector.

The next technical stand is termed 'breeding for longevity' and this will offer the latest information on maternal genetic index selection and validation work, including opportunities for commercial flocks to benefit from an increase in commercial data feeding into genetic evaluations.

The lifetime performance study examining the benefits of breeding from ewe lambs and ewe hoggets will also be discussed and deliver advice on how replacement strategies and management can influence ewe longevity and output.

Anthelmintic resistance is becoming a growing issue on all livestock farms in Ireland, with many sheep farms now identifying resistance to the three main anthelmintic classes.

On the third stand, discussions will centre on how to identify if resistance is an issue in your flock, strategies that can be taken to reduce the rate at which it develops and also options that can be taken on farms where resistance is a problem.

The final of the technical stands will focus on hill sheep. The latest research on hill lamb finishing studies will be discussed, in addition to updates from the Teagasc BETTER Farm sheep programme.

Options exploring the optimum route to market for lambs in 2022 will also be discussed.

Workshops and demonstrations

There is also an extensive series of workshops and demonstrations planned that will address topical issues in a practical manner.

A flavour of the content on offer is summarised below.

Grass and forage

  • Demonstrations on clover incorporation and management.
  • Grazing demonstrations to enhance grass quality and lamb performance.
  • Breeding

  • Demonstrations on performance recording in hill flocks and commercial lowland flocks.
  • Results of the Irish and New Zealand Across Country (INZAC) comparison trial including an update on the latest direction combining Irish and New Zealand genetics in breeding strategies.
  • Lamb finishing

  • Lamb finishing options in light of higher input costs.
  • How to compete a store lamb finishing budget.
  • Experience of finishing systems adopted on Teagasc BETTER Farms.
  • Health

  • Understanding the role of faecal egg counts including advice on how to take samples and interpret the results.
  • How to maintain a population of susceptible worms on your farms.
  • Protecting your flock and quarantine procedures for sheep brought on to the farm.
  • Health and safety

  • Safety tips for quads and ATVs.
  • The risks of accidents with tractors including blind spots, crush zones, etc.
  • Trailer towing licencing and regulations.
  • General farm health and safety advice.
  • Environment

  • Biodiversity on farms.
  • Hedgerow management.
  • Water quality.
  • European Innovation Partnership projects.
  • Signpost Farming Programme.
  • Thematic Networks

    The latest advice from initiatives such as:

  • Euro sheep.
  • Green sheep.
  • Tech Care.
  • Smart technology.
  • Education

  • Advice and information on Teagasc full and part-time agriculture courses.
  • Organics

  • The latest details on the organics scheme and future developments.
  • Forestry

  • Options available for afforestation on farms.