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Grazing - What is achievable and how?

Solution name: Grazing – what is achievable and how?

Aim:To improve ewe and lamb performance from grazed grass

Description:

  • Effective grassland management involves matching grass supply and feed value with animal requirements
  • As the grazing season progresses grass matures and goes from vegetative to reproductive state consequently increasing the proportion of stem and reducing digestibility and intake potential
  • To achieve optimum levels of lamb performance, pasture must be managed to maximise the proportion of leaf in the sward canopy, thus maintaining herbage digestibility and intake potential

Realistic lamb performance targets from grazed grass:

  • A 12 year rotational grazing system at Teagasc Athenry, Ireland achieved daily live weight gains of lambs born and reared as singles, twins or triplets (lambs reared as triplets received up to 300g concentrate daily, up to weaning) from grazed grass of:
    • 330, 271 and 279 g/day from birth to weaning (approximately 100 days old)
    • and 183, 178 and 163 g/day from weaning to slaughter

    Topic: Nutrition and Management

    Production:  Dairy / Meat

    Animal Category: Adult / Lamb / Replacement

    Issue: Grazing and grassland management

    Level of Solution: Knowledge, Practical

    Country: Ireland

     

     

     

     

     

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    How to implement it
      • Sward height measurement is the easiest and most effective way of managing pasture
      • Target post-grazing sward heights, which differ for rotational and set stocked grazing systems are summarised in Table 1.
      • Creep gates to allow lambs to grass fresh grass ahead of ewes could also be utilized.

      Table 1.  Recommended post-grazing sward heights for target lamb performance (cm)

       

      Grazing system

      Month

      Rotational

      Set stocked

      March

      April

      May

      June

      July

      August

      September

      3.5 – 4

      3.5 – 4

      4.5 – 5

      5.5 – 6

      6

      6

      6

      5

      5 – 6

      6

      6 – 7

      7 – 8

      7 – 8

      8

      (Keady et al., 2010)

    Expected benefits

    In mid-season, prime lamb production systems all lambs can be drafted for slaughter prior to the end of the grazing season without concentrate supplementation (except for triplets to weaning)

    Prerequisites and/or limits
    • Need to measure grass growth using a sward platemeter, sward stick or grass measuring application (e.g. Pasturebase Ireland or Agrinet)

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