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Diary: ‘With great amounts of grass, comes great responsibility’

In this week’s Farmer’s Diary, sheep farmer, Clodagh Hughes, discusses grassland management and challenges that can impact lambs. 

As I have mentioned before, there are times throughout the farming year that are quieter than others.

Farming, by its very nature, is a very seasonal enterprise, and I love this about it. It suits my own way of thinking and existing.

I seem to be a bit of a seasonal animal myself, being more dynamic at certain times of the year, bursting with energy and industrious productivity.

Then to the other end of the spectrum, needing serious downtime to recover and recharge from some of life’s tougher challenges.

But enough about me. What I am saying is, that this is a less intensely busy time for me on the farm concerning livestock management.

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Nonetheless, there is plenty to do, especially with more land to take care of this year; grassland management has become a bigger job for me.

Big shout out to my husband, Alan, whose mechanical skills were called on recently to fix the topper; this is basically a huge lawn mower!

It is very beneficial to ‘top’ overgrown pastures at this time of year for a couple of reasons; sunlight (the wee bit we get!), can reach the grassroots and encourage good regrowth.

Furthermore, keeping the stronger and wilder grass under control allows for optimum grazing for livestock.


See, I was paying attention to some of my grassland modules in Teagasc. By the way, I passed my Green Cert course, folks!

I may have hinted that I have plenty of grass this year. Well, with great amounts of grass, comes great responsibility!

Along with managing grazing pastures for my sheep, I shall be baling surplus grass this year; my very own winter fodder!

If I let it go wild, the grass will ‘seed out’ and become too strong for the ewes and especially the lambs to eat and continue thriving.

Managing the nutritional properties of grasses and, getting the best use out of our pastures is a huge part of farming here in Ireland.

It is an image we are proud to portray to the international market.

Our predominantly grass-fed meat and dairy products are extremely well established worldwide.

The taste, texture and quality are highly sought after in top restaurants in many countries. Not only meat and dairy produce, might I add.

Challenges: Growing lambs 

This time of year is crucial for the growing lambs; there are a number of challenges that can hit them.

From the stresses associated with the impending weaning and separation and the very changeable weather conditions, we are experiencing currently, could negatively impact some of them.

Their immune systems can become compromised, and they could succumb to pneumonia, stomach issues, and general ill-thrift. Even with the best care given, lambs can fall behind.

And, to any sheep people reading this! It is always your best stock that goes down, isn’t it?

On the shearing front, with the weather being so horrible here in the northeast, it has been postponed until Saturday week. Right, must put the wellies on now and go for a walk!

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