Manage grass for lamb performance

Manage grass for lamb performance

Grass is by far the cheapest and best feed for sheep, but it must be managed properly to get the most from it.

Grass is by far the cheapest and best feed for sheep, but it must be managed properly to get the most from it.

Managing sward height is vital to maximising lamb performance. When swards are too short lambs can’t consume enough nutrients and are more at risk of picking up infective worm larvae. Swards which are too long lose digestibility and as a result lamb performance will also suffer.

Top tip: Start measuring key grazing fields with a sward stick. Even a simple ruler can measure grass height

To make the best use of grass it is also important to consider how grass is grazed. Good performance can result from set stocking, but better results can often be achieved by rotational grazing.

Top tip: Consider the layout of the land available to see if rotational grazing is an option. The process can be started initially with lambs post-weaning rather than converting the whole system at once.

No matter how you graze your sheep it is important not to be caught out by worms. Worm infections reduce lamb performance and at high levels can lead to permanent poor performance in individual animals or even death. Infections are often hidden and by the time problems are seen the damage has been done.

Top tip: Test for wormer resistance by carrying out a faecal egg count reduction test to know what wormer groups are working on the farm. Consider routine monitoring of worm burdens through the use of ‘mob’ faecal egg counts in-conjunction with the monitoring of lamb growth rates.