Lucerne for sheep

Jerry

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Devon
These dry springs are starting to get to me and I need a decent option to make fodder for winter use.

Anyone one fed wrapped lucerne to in lamb ewes on over winter roots and after lambing on grass?

I have a field that is a dry light field that I think might suit it as a crop for 3 years as a long break from arable cropping.

What options are there for weed control and what sort of yields to be expected?
 

Great In Grass

Member
Location
Cornwall.
Average Dry Matter yield will be in the region of 10-12 tonnes/ha/year with average fresh yields 35-40 tonnes/ha/year.

Lucerne is one crop I would strongly advise the use an inoculant.

Another option would be a drought tolerant grass ley comprising of Festuloliums and Tall Fescues. Easier to manage 😉.
 

HarryB97

Member
Planted some last autumn for the first time and despite a good stale seed bed and then just blowing the seed on the top I had to right most of it off as it was so weedy. I am trying again this autumn but including red clover, cocksfoot & festuloliums. As a plant it ticks so many boxes and has real potential it’s just getting it going which is the hard part!
 
We grow it on very light sandy land and it is luck getting it well established.
Making silage/haylage is quite difficult as the stalks tend to go through the wrap if you do it in the field. It works better wrapping at the heap.
Better making hay of it but that is also tricky to keep the leaf on it.

It can be grazed in the Autumn, but not too tight and is good feed but lambs tend to grow rather than finish on it.
 

Al R

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
West Wales
I PM’ed you Jerry.

Roundup in the winter is the best herbicide to give a clean crop for the year ahead. Personally I’d go with red clover as there is a lot more choice with varieties, neighbours RC ley is romping on yet every field beside it is dying off from drought
 

HarryB97

Member
I PM’ed you Jerry.

Roundup in the winter is the best herbicide to give a clean crop for the year ahead. Personally I’d go with red clover as there is a lot more choice with varieties, neighbours RC ley is romping on yet every field beside it is dying off from drought
What rate a hectare are you using in the winter and what month are you normally applying it?
 

Al R

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
West Wales
What rate a hectare are you using in the winter and what month are you normally applying it?
Not me but I’ve seen it done to get rid of thistles, docks and AMG, I think 2l/ha I was told in Feb/March, you need very high rates to kill the Lucerne 🤷🏻‍♂️
 

HarryB97

Member
Not me but I’ve seen it done to get rid of thistles, docks and AMG, I think 2l/ha I was told in Feb/March, you need very high rates to kill the Lucerne 🤷🏻‍♂️
A fair bit of the Lucerne I sprayed off with 3 litres seams to of survived the spray which is handy as I plan to retry this autumn! I was surprised though as it’s only 6 months old so definitely not well established.
 

Al R

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
West Wales
A fair bit of the Lucerne I sprayed off with 3 litres seams to of survived the spray which is handy as I plan to retry this autumn! I was surprised though as it’s only 6 months old so definitely not well established.
First year you have to deal with whatever mess comes up with it but in it’s second winter/spring you can hit it with 2 litres 👍🏻
 

Boysground

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Wiltshire
1st year for me with Lucerne. Used a Barenbrug variety which comes with inoculant on the seed. Took the black grass and some other weeds out in the autumn quite a lot of cocksfoot in it now but the Lucerne is starting to move. Frost killed the charlock and I have some osr shooting

Plan is to bale it for the dairy as too far away to move bulk.

Bg
 
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Location
Ceredigion
I'm going to be trying some Annual Clovers with Italian Ryegass if I ever get some rain to sow it , no hope of growing Lucerne here, stick some Hybrid Kale in with Turnips if you want a more balanced mix
 

gwi1890

Member
Location
North wales
I PM’ed you Jerry.

Roundup in the winter is the best herbicide to give a clean crop for the year ahead. Personally I’d go with red clover as there is a lot more choice with varieties, neighbours RC ley is romping on yet every field beside it is dying off from drought
does red clover affect ewe fertility during the tupping period or is it a myth?
 

Al R

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
West Wales
does red clover affect ewe fertility during the tupping period or is it a myth?
Some people say it does yet others Have not known about the myth and run their red clover like normal leys and don’t keep sheep off during tupping. What I have done is had ewe lambs on RC and then removed a week pre tupping and then turned back in on RC 17 days after the rams come out 🤷🏻‍♂️ Scanning % the same as ewe lambs kept off RC the whole year.
 

gwi1890

Member
Location
North wales
Dont open that can of worms again
But if you must know then Google it . Long term infertility in ewes and red clover .
No use discussing it as there is as many who will say yes as no
but its a froum to discuss farming , I would rather the opinion of someone who has sheep and red clover on land,@Al R has answered and that gives me enough confidence tbh
 

Al R

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
West Wales
but its a froum to discuss farming , I would rather the opinion of someone who has sheep and red clover on land,@Al R has answered and that gives me enough confidence tbh
Having spoken at lengths with various seed houses and specialists about it they all said be wary BUT they all knew of people who had done it without realising and it hadn’t caused any problems 🤷🏻‍♂️ You can get low and high oestrogen levels in different varieties of RC too, a lot of the newer varieties are lower risk compared to years ago when they were much closer related to Lucerne. I plan on having a bit of RC in a lot of my new leys as I’m taking the stance on it as long as it’s not pure RC like Lucerne is grown it shouldn’t be a problem as it isn’t 100% of the diet in the autumn especially.
My theory is it’s like people with alcohol, if you hadn’t drank before and went and had 6 pints you’d be leathered and it would effect you greatly, where as if you have 5 pints every day and are well accustomed to it then having that 6th pint won’t effect you 👍🏻😂🤷🏻‍♂️
 
Location
Ceredigion
Having spoken at lengths with various seed houses and specialists about it they all said be wary BUT they all knew of people who had done it without realising and it hadn’t caused any problems You can get low and high oestrogen levels in different varieties of RC too, a lot of the newer varieties are lower risk compared to years ago when they were much closer related to Lucerne. I plan on having a bit of RC in a lot of my new leys as I’m taking the stance on it as long as it’s not pure RC like Lucerne is grown it shouldn’t be a problem as it isn’t 100% of the diet in the autumn especially.
My theory is it’s like people with alcohol, if you hadn’t drank before and went and had 6 pints you’d be leathered and it would effect you greatly, where as if you have 5 pints every day and are well accustomed to it then having that 6th pint won’t effect you
Without out getting into a lengthy chat about it then its quite the reverse,
Like ragwort the effect is cumulative
 
Location
Ceredigion
IBERS Legumes and Fertility Review

Permanent infertility
When ewes are exposed to high oestrogen red clover for prolonged periods permanent
infertility may occur. Clover infertility results in permanent damage to the reproductive tract
which becomes worse with each year‟s exposure to oestrogenic pastures .The oestrogen affects the structure of the cervix and sperm transport and conception
rates are reduced (Lightfoot et al., 1973). There are often no visual signs that ewes are
suffering from permanent infertility as ovarian function remains normal and ewes will show
normal oestrous cycles (Adams, 1995). The lack of visual signs means that the condition
often goes unnoticed and it is estimated that in Australia 1 million ewes may be affected and
that, on average, affected flocks have around a 10% increase in non-pregnant ewes
(Adams, 1990). Diagnosis of the problem is difficult and depends primarily on detection of
pathological changes in the cervix, which is normally identified on material collected from
ewes at abattoirs, rather than history or clinical signs.
Temporary infertility
Ewes fed high oestrogen red clover may suffer temporary infertility that will normally resolve
within one month after cessation of grazing (Adams 1995). As in permanent infertility, ewes
will exhibit normal oestrus cycles, although some breeds of ewe develop swelling of the
vulva and development of the mammary glands. Some breeds have a tendency to exhibit
visual signs more frequently than others but absence of visual signs is common in certain
breeds (e.g., Merino ewes) (Adams, 1995). An accurate diagnosis of temporary infertility
depends on the oestrogen concentration in the pasture at the time the sheep are being
mated (Adams, 1995).
 

Rejuvenating swards: Which option is best?

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Written by Brian McDonnell

Maintaining grass quality during mid-season grazing is important. Farmers can maintain quality by entering ideal grazing covers of 1,300 – 1,500kg DM/ha, and grazing down to a residual of 4cm every rotation.

If you are now in a situation where cows are not cleaning out paddocks as well as they should be, leading to the development of steamy grass within the sward, here are some options.

Common options for rejuvenating swards include:

  1. Take a silage cut, probably into bales, remove the material and start again with the aftermath...
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