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Making the most of pasture and sheep genetics on Nant yr Efail Farm to increase efficiency

Farmers were given a chance to visit Nant yr Efail Farm, Betws yn Rhos, which is a family farm with 700 ewes, lambs and rams, and beef cows for a Farming Connect open day.

Gethin Owen and his father, Richard Owen, have been concentrating on improving and making the most of the pasture on their farm and is part of Farming Connect’s Welsh Pasture Project as well as introducing genetics to improve the performance of sheep on low input systems. "Through introducing Innovis genetics and focusing on grassland management, outputs have increased by 14% of Liveweight lamb produced per ewe. This means £12 more per ewe and £3600 more within the flock compared to previous year".​

An update on the Welsh Pasture Project was given by Farming Connect’s North Wales Dairy Technical Officer, Rhys Davies. To emphasise the importance of measuring grass to ensure stock are offered the correct quantity and quality of feed.

Within this project, farms have been using a plate meter to measure the grass and then inputting the data as well as the stocking rate on that paddock or field on to the Agrinet software in order to see the progression. The stocking rate for the week of the event was 1518 KgLW/Ha, the daily growth was 68.7KgDM/Ha and the average coverage was 2890 KgDM/Ha.

It’s possible to follow the data of the farms within the project on Farming Connect’s website. As more data is gathered farmers can compare yields year on year and make better decisions on which fields are performing best and which fields need reseeding. Rhys Davies said:

“We understand that rotational grazing isn’t going to suit every farm, stock and farmer, but by adopting some of the rotational grazing principles, it can increase the efficiency of farm businesses.

“Teagasc estimate that every hour spent measuring and managing your grassland is worth 85 euro, the potential to increase grassland utilisation to up to 80% increase stocking rates by 25% on the same parcel of land.”

A presentation was also given by Innovis’ Chief Executive, Dewi Jones. Innovis is the leading supplier of sheep breeding technologies to the UK livestock industry.

Dewi Jones emphasised the importance of using the right genetics to suit different farms and circumstances. Dewi Jones said:

“Measuring the pasture of your farm is key to planning and the efficiency of your business to make the correct decisions and plans for you, and the future of your business.

“Considering the sheep genetics is also key to get the most efficient ewe on the farm that is best able to make the best use of the grass being grown.”

Therefore, by improving the pasture and grazing systems by measuring your pasture, making decisions based on the data, and combining this with the right genetics for a grass based system, it’s possible to improve farm efficiency.

This project has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities - Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

The Farming Connect Knowledge Transfer Programme and Advisory Service are delivered by Menter a Busnes on behalf of Welsh Government. Lantra Wales leads on the delivery of the Farming Connect Lifelong Learning and Development Programme.