Future planning for dry-weather resistance

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Last week, we learned how Chris and Sarah have had to change their short-term goals to deal with current dry weather challenges. Here we take a look at their longer-term contingency plan to increase their resilience to dry weather.

Working with James Daniels from Precision Grazing, protecting body condition of breeding stock to ensure this year does not impact their performance in 2021 is key to reduce costs and review planned farm investments to protect cash flow. If the dry conditions continue Chris’s long-term plan includes:

  • Selling autumn-calving cows (planned as policy change anyway)
  • Bale spring barley as wholecrop
  • If summer forage crops low yielding or fail, then reduce lamb selection weight to achieve 17 kg carcase or sell lambs as store, may not keep replacements and focus on achieving good scan with mature ewes
  • Spring calves may be sold at weaning

Future planning – dry-weather resilience

The Farm has a three-year plan in place and rotational grazing all stock has helped ensure quality feed to wean lambs onto and maximise potential growth in March and April. Other areas of focus to become dry-weather resilience include:

  • Aiming to have green cover on farm all year round (no bare ground), so eliminating use of winter forage crops and instead using bale grazing on differed grass, as well as planned all-grass wintering for ewes. Fallback option of housing some ewes if weather conditions turn
  • 9 ha of chicory, plantain, red and white clover established – will use for lamb finishing. Aim to have 30% of the farm area into this mix or similar within three years to provide dry-weather resilience and enable more lambs to be sold at weaning
  • Establish lucerne or sainfoin on 5 acres for silage production as trial – if successful, expand to 20% of farm platform and use for grazing
  • Increase sheep flock and maintain performance
  • Review suckler enterprise, seek options to contract rear or finish

To support farmers during COVID-19 restrictions Precision Grazing are hosting a virtual farm discussion group which allows farmers to share ideas and access expert advice.  The group is free to join, apply here: www.precisiongrazing.com/discussion-groups