Early growth creates new opportunities

Transform your system with 35% more DM in early spring. 


Striking the right balance between feed demand and pasture supply at the start of lambing can be challenging.

But if you get it right, the payoff comes at weaning, with more lambs drafted prime straight onto the truck.

Now a new pasture cultivar makes that process easier.

With 35% more dry matter growth in early spring, coupled with good year-round yield and persistence, Tyson perennial ryegrass is a potential game-changer for red meat producers.

On Rathfriland, a fourth-generation family farm business in northern Southland, 25ha of Tyson is helping keep the feed up to multiple-bearing ewes from lambing onwards.

James and Jessica McKee run approximately 9000 stock units over two properties, at Waikaia and Balfour, in partnership with James’ parents John and Janet.

Their first paddocks of Tyson were sown spring 2016, ex winter crop. James is always keen to try new proprietary pasture cultivars, and says Tyson’s early growth advantage, plus its genetics, were enough to convince him to introduce it on both farms.

“Something that could grow 35% more spring feed would get most sheep farmers interested! We’ve also previously used Arrow ryegrass, which was part of Tyson’s breeding.”

The new pasture has lived up to expectation, growing so well from the start of lambing that it has required extra ewes to be added to those already set stocked to stay on top of the feed available.

The McKees aim to finish as many of their lambs as possible, depending on the season, and the earlier these are ready to go, the better.

“Those lambs you finish off mum, you never get a growth check; they don’t need to be drenched; they don’t need to be dipped and they free up feed for other stock,” James says.

It all comes back to making the most of lactation. “Having grass grow under the ewes’ feet is worth everything to us. If you get a pinch, it messes up the whole system. Mum doesn’t milk well, she wanders away from her lambs to look for feed, lambs don’t grow as well. It’s a critical time.”

Autumn management to set up the right pasture covers for lambing is also critical, he says.

For near optimal pasture and lamb growth, best practice minimum pasture covers for lambing are 1200-1300kg DM/ha (3-4cm pasture height) for single lamb-bearing ewes, and 1500-1600kg DM/ha (4-5cm pasture height) for multiples.

Put simply, the old adage ‘grass grows grass’ is the key rule for early spring.

Tyson was bred from elite plants from two of Barenbrug’ best early growing ryegrasses, Meridian and Arrow.