According to Promar’s Paul Henderson in the September issue of Cow Management magazine, dairy farmers keeping sheep on cow grazing over the winter should say goodbye to them no later than February 1st – or sooner on units where turnout is early.
“While sheep may tidy up old stemmy swards, they much prefer to eat new season growth and the cost of this will far outweigh the income received,” Mr Henderson explains.
“Most producers get about 50p/sheep/week and graze them at around five ewes/ha giving a monthly income of just £10/ha,” he says.
“Early season grass will grow at around 45kg dry matter (DM) per hectare per day, equivalent to 1.4 tonnes per month.
“With grass worth £50/t DM, this monthly growth is valued at £70/ha – a great deal more than the income from sheep grazing. Keeping sheep too long costs money and will restrict early season grazing for cows.”
I have heard other grazing consultants over the years condemn the practice of having tack sheep – regarding them as ‘woolly parasites’ that should never be allowed near dairy farms – especially in winter. Does anyone disagree?