Sheep farmers in the Westcountry will be able to see the outcome of an experiment in all-grass wintering, the Antipodean system which moves grazing livestock from field to field in quick rotation.
Eblex has funded a trial of the system at Norton Farm, near Bodmin, where farmer Dave Sanders has been working with John Vipond, of Scottish Agricultural Colleges, on testing the concept.
Farmers are being invited to a special event at the farm on September 5, run by the Eblex Better Returns Programme, to show the benefits of all-grass wintering.
Norton Farm is an organic sheep farm, estimated to have a 270-day grass growth period and free-draining soil on moderately sloping land.
All-grass wintering is a grazing strategy where sheep are managed at high-stocking densities, but moved daily.
It is a type of cell grazing, and has been developed in Australia and New Zealand – based on the idea of maximum carrying capacity for minimum time.
The farm kept 950 Romney ewes on one-hectare paddocks and shifted them daily.
They set-up a week's worth of paddock, and had a total of 98 paddocks over the winter.
The fields that were going to be used for lambing were grazed first, which meant they had time to recover before lambing.
Andy Hutson, of Eblex, said all-winter grazing aimed to replace conserved forages and concentrates with grazing grass in the diet of pregnant ewes.
This meant that the wintering costs were reduced, and resources were used more effectively.
Rotational grazing grows more winter grass, and by grazing each paddock for one day it allows grass recovery after each paddock grazing.
The system needs to be set up in late summer or early autumn to ensure covers can be built.
The rotation ends around 20 days before lambing, and the ewes can be set stocked for lambing on high-quality grass.
At Norton grass was measured from last October, and the sheep started grazing on December 1, around 24 days after ram turn-out. The target cover was 2,000kg dry matter per hectare.
The size of the paddocks was governed by calculating the daily demand of the sheep and measuring how much grass was available. Silage bales were used to top up if the cover was not high enough.
Ewe body condition was monitored by putting sheep through the race about once a month. Five per cent of ewes were pulled off following body condition scoring indicating they were not coping.
Because flock density and grazing throughout the year increases parasite risk, regular worm egg counting and other practices to reduce worm burden and resistance build up was crucial
The outcome was that ewes lambed without supplements, receiving adequate grass on a portion of 110 hectares that wintered all of them, with only 11kg of silage per ewe and significantly less labour.
Two men put up the paddocks for the week in half a day and then daily sheep movements took about 15 minutes a day using an electric-fencing machine. Few health problems were encountered.
And the experiment paid off, with preliminary calculation of the potential effect on profit by SAC economist Robert Logaon, based on the physical performance of the ewes at Norton Farm and changes in the infrastructure required, indicating an increased profit of £17.80 per ewe.
So the plan for next year is to put all the flock into cell grazing rather than half.
Mr Hutson said: "All-grass wintering is a proven way to increase profitability on sheep farms.
Based on length of growing season estimations, it may be currently applicable to at least 30 per cent of the English flock, providing soil is well-drained, but it has potential in all English flocks.
"Although daily movements of the flock may sound daunting, with electric fence set up and machinery, it can reduce labour costs.
Using best lambing pastures at the beginning of the rotation, grass growth will have recovered sufficiently in time for lambing in Spring.
If your farm lends itself well to rotation in one convenient block, all-grass wintering could increase margin per ewe significantly."
The event at Norton starts at 1pm and includes a farm walk.
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