This year’s IGA sheep conference sponsored by Mullinahone Co Op will take place in the Hudson Bay Hotel, Athlone, Co. Westmeath on 19th May. The format will be similar to previous years with an indoor conference in the morning followed by a farm walk in the afternoon. Registration for the conference will commence from 10 am with the conference starting at 10.30 am and proceedings wrapping up for 4.30pm.
The indoor morning session has an excellent line up of speakers with Ryan Duffy, HIPRA, Philip Creighton, Teagasc and Roger Bell, a sheep farmer from Northern Ireland taking to the podium. Both the morning and afternoon sessions will address pertinent topics including mastitis control, incorporating clover into your sheep sward and the challenges and benefits of operating a large scale, multi enterprise grassland livestock system.
Click on the photos of each speaker to read about their presentations.
Ryan Duffy, MVB CertDHH MRCVS, HIPRA
Ryan qualified as a veterinary surgeon from UCD in 2016. Since then, he has completed a number of years in practice in the Republic of Ireland, the UK, and New Zealand. He has completed a farm animal clinical studies internship in the UCD referral veterinary hospital and a postgraduate certificate in dairy herd health. He is currently undertaking a masters in ruminant nutrition in Harper Adams. Ryan has a particular interest in preventative medicine with an emphasis on herd/flock health, with particular focus on calf health and milk quality.
Dr. Philip Creighton, Grassland Scientist Teagasc
Philip graduated from UCD with a degree in Agriculture Science and went on to complete a PhD with Teagasc Moorepark and UCD investigating the impact of varying levels of perennial ryegrass content on sward production potential. Additionally, he also investigated methods of reseeding grassland pastures. He is currently a Research Officer based in Teagasc Athenry leading the Sheep Grassland Systems research programme. He established the Sheep Research Demonstration unit at Athenry and he was recently appointed Sheep enterprise leader with responsibility for managing
Roger Bell Sheep and Beef Farmer
Roger and his wife Hilary are sheep and beef farmers based in Kells, Co. Antrim. They are currently farming 550 Texel x Mule ewes in a mid-season lambing flock. Roger and Hilary are strong advocates for technology adoption and as a result are one of the DAERA technology demonstrations farms in Northern Ireland. In addition, Roger and Hilary are members of the Herbal lay EIP
Afternoon Farm Walk
Father and Daughter team, Peadar and Aoife Coyle, farm 230 acres near Curraghboy in South Roscommon. The farm consists of 80 acres of owned land in one block and the remaining 150 acres is comprised of rented ground. The Coyle’s have a number of enterprises on the farm including a flock of 575 mid-season lambing ewes, a 40 cow suckler to weanling system, and a dairy calf to beef system finishing 50 bullocks annually. Over the past number of years the sheep enterprise has had a scanning rate of 1.9 and weaning rate of 1.7 lambs per ewe joined to the ram with all lambs finished on farm. Peadar and Aoife make up the bulk of the labour force with other family members lending a hand during the busy periods of the year.
Maintaining optimal grazing infrastructure is a key element to the Coyle’s farm with excellent facilities enabling good grassland management and reducing the labour requirement. The 80 acre home farm is divided into 17 permanent paddocks. Grass isn’t measured on the farm but instead it is managed by eye and experience with heavy paddocks removed as baled silage, although this is rare due to the high stocking rate.
The Coyle’s are strong advocates for mixed grazing with the cattle and sheep grazing together achieving better grass utilisation and animal performance compared to grazing separately. The home block is heavily stocked at 2.6 LU/ha with the 80 acres supporting 4 grazing groups consisting of 40 suckler cows and their calves along with approximately 300 ewes with twin lambs. The remainder of the ewes and dairy beef animals are all grazed on the out farms.
All lambs are finished on farm with grass making up the majority of the diet. Lambs are weaned at 14 weeks of age at an average of 32kg. All lambs are weighed fortnightly which allows for frequent drafting across the summer months until October when all remaining lambs are housed and offered ad lib concentrates until drafting for slaughter. All potential replacement ewe lambs are ear notched at birth and the best performing 150 ewe lambs are retained. In august the 150 replacement ewe lambs are moved off farm to a contract rearer who looks after them until they return the following august as hoggets ready for the ram.
Peadar is a firm believer in soil fertility and has made a huge effort over the years to ensure it is optimised.This is evident with approximately 80% of paddocks in index 3 or 4 for P & K. The home farm is soil sampled every 3 years and lime is spread accordingly to maintain a soil pH of 6.3 or above. The Coyle’sare keen to optimise their Nitrogen use efficiency through more targeted applications and the inclusion of clover in grazing swards in the future.
The Irish Grassland Association is hugely indebted to Mullinahone Co-op their support of our 2022 Sheep Conference. Speaking on behalf of the sponsors James Manley from Mullinahone Co-op said “We at Mullinahone Co-op are delighted to support the IGA since the outset and in particular their sheep conference as it allows sheep farmers to look at efficient and sustainable production systems that will help overcome the challenges which will inevitably face sheep farmers over the next decade”.
Book your tickets early! To book your tickets, you can book online at www.irishgrassland.ie or phone Maura at 087-9626483.