• Quality and safety of milk from farm to dairy product

      O'Brien, Bernadette; Gallagher, B.; Joyce, P.; Meaney, William J; Kelly, Alan L. (Teagasc, 2004-01-01)
      Neutrophils (PMN cells) constitute one of the main cell types in milk. Increased PMN level is an indication of mastitis. An ELISA method has been developed to determine PMN levels in milk. This may allow (in addition to somatic cell count [SCC]) selection of infected quarters at drying off, thereby allowing antibiotic therapy to be limited to those quarters. PMN counts may also be used to select milk for processing. Little information is available on the contribution of different somatic cells in milk to cheese-making efficiency. The overall objective of this study was to establish the influence of the quality of raw milk, as determined by somatic cell level and type, on milk biochemistry and cheese quality. The work firstly included modification to a method for an enzyme immunoassay, which could enumerate milk PMN. Subsequently, the impact of somatic cell and PMN content on biochemistry of individual udder quarter milks and simulated bulk cow milks, and quality of cheese manufactured from such milks was investigated. The somatic cell and PMN content of bulk herd milks was also investigated. The modification to the test of O’Sullivan et al (1992) allowed the accurate measurement of PMN levels in milk. The strong relationship or correlation between SCC and PMN of 92% in the individual quarter milks has confirmed previous preliminary data. This is important since PMN in conjunction with SCC may now provide a more reliable method of selecting milks for processing. The reduction in casein at elevated SCC and PMN levels may have resulted in the trend towards deteriorated milk coagulation properties. A very heterogeneous selection of proteolysis patterns was observed in the miniature cheeses. This substantial difference in proteolytic activity in milk from different quarters had not been observed previously. Enzymes associated with the cells in high SCC milk were retained in the cheese curd and thus, contributed to proteolysis during ripening. Addition of low volumes of high SCC milk had an obvious impact on proteolysis patterns and cheese ripening. However, such trends were generally less clear with increasing PMN milk than those observed for addition of high SCC milk. The poor correlation between SCC and PMN obtained in both cow and herd bulk milks, compared to the correlation in quarter milks was probably due to the mixing of high and low SCC milks from either quarters or cows. Thus, the true effect of PMN may not be observed in bulk herd milk but may still have an adverse effect on milk quality. Whether elevated bulk milk SCC and PMN level is due to milk from a smaller number of cows with extremely high SCC/PMN being included with milk from a predominantly healthy herd, or, to large numbers of cows with sub-clinical infections, probably contributes to variation in the effects of SCC/PMN on dairy products.
    • Quality Meat Production from Beef Cattle During Winter Finishing.

      Moloney, Aidan P (Teagasc, 2000-12-01)
      A series of experiments were carried out to examine the performance of the UK metabolisable energy (ME)/metabolisable protein (MP) system in an Irish context, and to determine the response in lean tissue growth to changes in the form of nutrients available for absorption from the intestine. In Experiment 1, the response of finishing continental heifers to an increase in MP supply was examined. It was demonstrated that this type of animal responded positively to an increase in MP supply in excess of requirements as presently estimated by the UK ME/MP system. Such an anomaly requires clarification. In Experiment 2, growth, digestibility and nitrogen retention in finishing continental steers offered ad libitum, concentrates based on barley and soyabean or on a mixture of industrial by-products were examined. The observed higher nitrogen retention in animals offered the by-product based ration suggested that there is opportunity to increase carcass protein content by judicious choice of feed ingredients. This suggestion was explored in Experiment 3. In Experiment 3, nitrogen retention and carcass composition were measured in sheep offered rations which resulted in different patterns of volatile fatty acid supply from the rumen. Nitrogen retention and the growth of carcass lean tissue were increased by the inclusion of sodium propionate in a starch-based ration but not in a fibre-based ration. The apparently contradictory effects of an increase in propionate supply by dietary means (starch vs fibrebased rations) or by addition of a salt of propionic acid suggests that the pattern, as well as the total supply of propionate is physiologically important in the growing ruminant. The endocrine mechanism of changes in carcass composition was also explored in this experiment. Differences in plasma concentrations of hormones which play a major role in the partition of absorbed nutrients towards muscle or adipose tissue suggests a role for the endocrine system in the regulation of growth, independent of energy intake. In Experiment 4, the effect of starch form and concentration (a dietary means of increasing propionate supply) in high concentrate rations on growth, efficiency and estimated lean content was examined in Friesian bulls. Supporting mechanistic measurements were made in Friesian steers fed the corresponding experimental rations. For optimum growth, ground starch should not exceed 210 g/kg of the ration. When included at approximately 300 g/kg, ground rather than rolled starch had a negative impact on growth. Coarse rations containing 300g or 480g starch/kg resulted in similar growth and efficiency. An increase in ground but not rolled starch concentration decreased the insulin response to a glucose challenge.
    • The quality of under-utilised deep-water fish species

      Brennan, Martine H.; Gormley, Ronan T.; European Union; Marine Research Measure (Teagasc, 1999-09)
      The quality of twenty-three frozen under-utilised fish species was examined. The species were spot samples of deep-water fish caught near the Rockall Trough by the Fisheries Research Centre. Their basic composition was 80.8 - 86.4% water, 9.8 - 25.2% protein, 0.18 - 16.2% lipid and 0.7 - 2.0% ash. Lead, cadmium and mercury concentrations were determined for six species and were much lower than the maximum levels set in 1992. Ammonia levels were unacceptably high in three shark species.
    • Quality Suckler Beef From Low and High Input Grassland Management Systems

      Drennan, Michael J; Fallon, Richard J.; Davis, B. (Teagasc, 2004-01-01)
      Spring calving cows were used in the years 1997 to 2003 in the development of planned low and high input systems of suckler beef production.The main objective of the study was to compare a semiintensive Grange (standard): system of suckler beef production with a more extensive REPS (Rural Environment Protection Scheme) compatible system. In the standard system the stocking rate was 0.80 ha per cow unit (cow plus heifer and steer progeny to slaughter at 20 and 23/24 months of age, respectively, plus replacements or its equivalent), a nitrogenous fertiliser application rate of 210 kg per ha and two silage harvests each year amounting to the equivalent of 87% of the total area harvested. The REPS system involved a 25% lower stocking rate, an annual nitrogen fertiliser application rate of 90 to 100 kg per ha and one silage harvest (portion in late May to provide good silage for the progeny and the remainder in June to provide lower quality silage for cows) amounting to 58% of the total area harvested. Between 1997 and 2000 the cow herd were Limousin x Friesians (LF) and Simmental x (Limousin x Friesians) (SLF). A herd of first calvers were introduced in 2001 and 2002 which in addition to LF and SLF included Limousin x (Limousin x Friesians), purebred Limousin and purebred Charolais. Charolais (or Simmental) sires were used on mature cows. Replacement heifers were bred to calve at 2 years of age using an easy calving Limousin bull. Concentrate inputs per animal were the same in the two systems. The main findings of the study were: • The mean nitrogenous application rates were 210 and 98 kg per ha in the standard and REPS systems, respectively. • Mean dry matter digestibility of the first-cut silages harvested early (May 19 to May 29), late (June 5 to June 13) and the second cut silage in the standard system (harvested in July/early August) were 716, 690 and 674 g/kg, respectively. • When averaged throughout two grazing seasons there was no difference between the standard and REPS systems in pregrazing or post-grazing sward heights. When examined over one grazing season the only major difference between the grazing areas was that the pasture crude protein content was higher in the standard system in both the pre-grazed (205 and 159 g/kg) and post-grazed (172 v 141 g/kg) swards. Cow liveweight and body condition score gains at pasture and calf gains from birth to weaning were the same for both systems. Carcass weights of the progeny were the same for the standard and REPS systems.
    • Quantification of nutrient supply in forage-based diets for beef cattle.

      McGee, Michael; Owens, David; O'Kiely, Padraig (Teagasc, 2009-12-01)
      Cattle rearing systems in Ireland are predominantly grass-based as 80% of agricultural land is dedicated to grassland (silage, hay and pasture) (CSO, 2007). Feed costs represent the largest single variable cost in beef production in Ireland. Grazed grass is generally the cheapest source of food available for beef (and milk) production provided that the environment and management permit high yields of high quality herbage to be utilised (McGee, 2000). Environmental legislation and the rules of environmental schemes such as the European Union (EU) Rural Environmental Protection Scheme are progressively restricting the application of fertilizer Nitrogen (N), and many grazing systems are becoming more extensive. Over 80% of all farms in Ireland make grass silage (O’Kiely et al., 1998) and it accounts for 87% of total grass conserved (Mayne and O’Kiely, 2005). The deficiencies in nutrient supply to beef cattle from grass silage are usually overcome by supplementing with concentrates (McGee, 2005), which are primarily cereal-based (Drennan et al., 2006). However, diverse types of concentrates containing a variety of feed ingredients, particularly non-cereal by-products are available and frequently fed as supplements to grass silage or as highconcentrate diets. The relatively small amount of information available on feeding these contrasting concentrates to beef cattle is inconsistent. Moreover, there has been an increased use of other ensiled forages such as maize and whole-crop cereals. These forages have high intake potential and can reduce the concentrate feeding level, while maintaining or increasing performance of beef cattle (Keady, 2005). With increasing costs of beef production and increasing constraints of environmental regulations, efficient utilisation of consumed nutrients by cattle is imperative in providing sustainable production and income to farmers. Feed evaluation systems are used to match the dietary nutrient supply with animal requirements for a specific level of production (Dijkstra et al., 2007). These systems are important in order to optimise the efficiency of feed utilisation, to improve animal performance and to reduce nutrient losses to the environment (Dijkstra et al., 2007). Although the reticulo-rumen is central to the profile of nutrients available for absorption, yet quantitative knowledge of the rates of passage and the digestion of nutrients in the rumen is limited compared with that on degradation rates (Dijkstra et al., 2007). There is a lack of information that adequately characterises the supply of nutrients from forages and feedstuffs specific to Ireland, especially for fresh grass-based diets of which, there are very few studies reported in the literature. This shortcoming impedes our ability to capitalise on the merits of evolving feeding systems. This project aimed to: 1. Increase the knowledge and advance the understanding on rumen digestion and nutrient flow from the rumen of the main forages / forage-based diets offered to beef cattle in Ireland. 2. Evaluate strategies for optimal utilization of nutrients consumed by cattle.
    • Quantification of phosphorus loss from soil to water.

      Tunney, Hubert; Coulter, B.S.; Daly, Karen M.; Kurz, Isabelle; Coxon, Catherine E.; Jeffrey, D.W.; Mills, P.; Kiely, Gerard; Morgan, Ger (Teagasc, 2000-08-01)
      The methods, results and discussion of the project are in five separate sections, 4.1) Phosphorus (P) export from agricultural grassland with overland flow and drainage water (Johnstown Castle); 4.2) Phosphorus export from farm in Dripsey catchment, Co. Cork (NMP); 4.3) Hydrometeorological aspects of farm in Dripsey Catchment (NMP); 4.4) Phosphorus desorption from Irish soils; 4.5) National phosphorus model. Most of the field and laboratory studies were carried out at Johnstown Castle, at UCC and the field site in the Dripsey catchment. The main aim of the project was to quantify the loss of P from soil to water where point source contributions from farmyards were not high. This involved the construction of hydrologically isolated field sites where the quantity of overland flow and the P concentrations for different runoff events from the fields could be measured. In addition, 90 soil samples representative of Irish soils were collected and analysed for the different factors influencing soil adsorption and desorption of P. These results, in addition to catchment data, were used as a first attempt at developing a model that could be used to help predict P loss from soil to water at a catchment scale. The study in the Dripsey was on a farm where water flow and P levels at two points in a stream were measured. The hydrometeorology at this site was also studied. At Johnstown Castle, three overland flow sites, of the order of one hectare each, and one subsurface flow site were studied for P loss to water.
    • Quantification of risks associated with plant disease: the case of Karnal bunt of wheat.

      Thorne, Fiona; Brennan, J.; Kelly, P.W.; Kinsella, Anne (Teagasc, 2004-12-01)
      The aim of this study was to assess the economic impact of Tilletia indica, the cause of Karnal bunt of wheat (and triticale) in the EU. The methodologies used are relevant to estimating the costs of controlling other plant and animal diseases. The work was carried out as part of an EU funded research project.
    • A quantitative risk assessment of E.coli 0157:H7 in Irish minced beef

      Duffy, Geraldine; O'Brien, Stephen; Carney, Eimear; Butler, Francis; Cummins, Enda; Nally, Padraig; Mahon, Denise; Henchion, Maeve; Cowan, Cathal (Teagasc, 2005-02)
      A national quantitative risk assessment was undertaken for minced beef in the Republic of Ireland. The objective was to estimate the probability of E. coli O157:H7 infection from consumption of Irish beef and to investigate the parts of the beef chain contributing most to the risk posed by this pathogen.The quantitative risk assessment was broken into 3 main modules: 1) production of boxed beef trimmings; 2) processing of trimmings and burger formation and 3) retail/domestic consumption phase. Key points in each module (beef hide, beef trimmings and beef products at retail) were validated using data derived from microbiology sampling at beef abattoirs, supermarkets and butchers’ shops in Ireland.
    • Radiotelemetry systems for measuring body temperature

      Prendiville, Daniel J.; Lowe, J.; Earley, Bernadette; Spahr, C.; Kettlewell, P. (Teagasc, 2002-06-01)
      The objective of this study was to compare three methods of measuring body temperature in the bovine and examine their relationship with ambient temperature. The three methods used were (a) rumen bolus (b) tympanic logger and (c) rectal.
    • Ranking of Sire Breeds and Beef Cross Breeding of Dairy and Beef Cows

      Keane, Michael G. (Teagasc, 2011-03-01)
      Data from Grange Beef Research Centre in Ireland (Keane, More O'Ferrall and Connolly, 1989; More O'Ferrall and Keane, 1990; Keane et al., 1990; Keane and More O'Ferrall, 1992; Keane, 1994; Keane and Allen, 2002) and from the United Kingdom (UK) Meat and Livestock Commission (MLC) (Southgate, Cook and Kempster, 1988; Kempster, Cook and Southgate, 1988) were used to compile a ranking for common production traits of progeny of straight-bred Holstein-Friesians (HF) and crosses out of HF cows and the common beef breeds. In the Grange studies, the animals were reared as steers to around two years of age and serially slaughtered. The MLC animals were also reared as steers in 16- or 24-month production systems and were slaughtered at an estimated constant proportion of subcutaneous fat.
    • Rapid control systems for veterinary drug residues in food producing animals

      O'Keeffe, Michael; European Union; SMT4 - CT96 - 2092 (Teagasc, 2002-10)
      The aim was to develop rapid systems which could be used to test for the presence of veterinary drug residues in food producing animals. Body fluid samples are most suitable for rapid testing systems so as to avoid the lengthy residue extraction procedures required for tissue samples. Urine was analysed for sulphamethazine, a licensed antimicrobial, and for chlorotestosterone, a prohibited growth promoting agent, as models to demonstrate the different approaches.
    • Rapid cooling of cooked meat joints

      Kenny, Tony; Desmond, Eoin; Ward, Patrick; Sun, Da-Wen (Teagasc, 2002-02)
      Conventional cooling by air-blast or even by immersion in liquid is unlikely to achieve recommended cooling rates when dealing with joints weighing 5kg or more because meat has a low thermal conductivity. The objective was to investigate vacuum cooling as a technique for rapid chilling of cooked meat joints. In vacuum cooling, the food is enclosed in a chamber and reduction of the pressure to about 7 mbar causes evaporation of water from the surface of the food and from cavities in the food. The energy required to evaporate the water is extracted from the food, resulting in rapid chilling
    • Recovery and identification of emerging Campylobacteraceae from food

      Duffy, Geraldine; Cagney, Claire; Lynch, Orla; Downey, Gerard (Teagasc, 01/02/2007)
      The family Campylobacteraceae includes 23 different species of Campylobacter and Arcobacter.To date, clinical and epidemiological interest has focused almost exclusively on just two of these species, C. jejuni and C. coli. Current routine examination methods for both clinical and food samples look exclusively for these two species. Recent clinical research indicates that some of the other, previously ignored Campylobacter species may be linked to human infection. The focus of this research was to develop a routine procedure which would allow recovery of all 23 species of Campylobacteraceae from food samples.
    • Recreational demand modelling for agricultural resources

      Hynes, Stephen (Teagasc, 2007-07-31)
      In the last decade the demand for rural recreation has increased in Ireland as the population has become increasingly urbanised. Increased affluence, mobility and changing values have also brought new demands with respect to landscape, conservation, heritage and recreation, with a greater emphasis on consumption demands for goods and services in rural areas. This project’s contribution to the understanding of outdoor recreational pursuits in Ireland is based on the estimation of the first recreation demand functions for farm commonage walking, small-scale forestry recreation and whitewater kayaking. These are all popular activities that take place in Irish rural space. We use this empirical work to investigate the more general conflict between countryside recreational pursuits and farming activity. Through the estimation of travel cost models, the study derives the mean willingness to pay of the average outdoors enthusiast using small-scale forestry sites in Co. Galway, using farm commonage in Connemara and using the Roughty river for kayaking recreation in Co. Kerry. An estimate of the gross economic value of the sites as recreational resources was also derived. The results indicate the high value of Irish farmland (and the Irish rural countryside in general) from a recreational amenity perspective. The project lasted approximately 2 years and was completed on-time (31st July 2007).
    • Reduced Fungicide Inputs in Winter Wheat

      Dunne, B. (Teagasc, 1998-09-01)
      Nine trials were conducted over three years at three sites to evaluate the efficacy of reduced rates of various fungicide products for their biological efficacy in controlling stem, foliar and ear diseases of winter wheat as well as their effects on yield and grain quality, and to compare the relative profitability of full and reduced rates of fungicides. The results show that the use of half rates can give an economic benefit over that of full rates in many situations. In circumstances where variety or seasonal factors resulted in low to moderate foliar disease pressure the use of half rates gave similar yields to that of full rates. Where foliar disease pressure was high, half rates generally gave lower yields than full rates but the amount of the reduction varied with the fungicide product used. The use of spray additives improved the yield response of the half rate treatments in most cases. Disease levels (septoria) were higher in treatments where half rates were used, compared with the corresponding full rates, but the used of spray additives improved the disease control in the half rate treatments. The timing of spray applications is critical when half rates of fungicides are being used. Reduced rate treatments need to be applied more frequently. In these trials reduced rate treatments were applied as a three-spray programme rather than the conventional two-spray programme.
    • Reduced Herbicide Inputs in Cereals

      Mitchell, B.J. (Teagasc, 1998-09-01)
      The objective of this project was to examine if herbicides used in cereals at rates lower than recommended by the manufacturer (reduced rates) would give acceptable weed control resulting in lower crop production costs. Field trials with a number of herbicides at full and reduced rates were carried out in winter barley, winter wheat and spring barley in 1994-1996. Herbicides used at recommended rates gave the highest and most consistent levels of weed control. Herbicides used at 50% of the recommended rates gave slightly lower levels of weed control than the recommended rates but did not result in lower yields. While rates lower than 50% gave about 70% control of weeds, grain yield was reduced in some trials. Reduced rates gave higher weed control in barley than in wheat. The level of weed control was influenced by weed species and the growth stages of the weeds at the time of herbicide spraying. Thus selection of herbicides and their rates of application should be field specific. The findings show that it is possible to reduce the amount of herbicides used in cereals with considerable cost savings and reduced risk of herbicide residues in grain, soil and water.
    • Reducing The Cost of Beef Production by Increasing Silage Intake.

      O'Kiely, Padraig; Moloney, Aidan P; O'Riordan, Edward G. (Teagasc, 2002-12-01)
      Grass silage must support the predictable, consistent and profitable production of quality animal produce within environmentally sustainable farming systems. This can be quite a challenge for a crop that is so strongly influenced by the prevailing variable weather conditions, and the many interactions of the latter with farm management practices. Research and scientific progress must therefore continue to provide improved technologies if grass silage is to fulfil the above requirements. Yield, quality (including effects on intake, feed conversion efficiency, growth, meat quality, etc.), conservation losses, inputs and eligibility for EU financial supports determine the cost of providing cattle with silage, and this can have a major impact on the cost of producing milk or beef. Consequently, there has been an emphasis in the research reported here to add new information to the existing framework of knowledge on these
    • Reducing the incidence of boar taint in Irish pigs

      Allen, Paul; Joseph, Robin; Lynch, Brendan (Teagasc, 2001-04)
      Boar taint is an unpleasant odour that is released during cooking from some pork and products made from the meat and fat of non-castrated male pigs. Only a proportion of boars produce this odour and not all consumers are sensitive to it. Nevertheless it is a potential problem for the industry since an unpleasant experience can mean that a sensitive consumer may not purchase pork or pork products again. Some European countries are very concerned about this problem and most castrate all the male pigs not required for breeding. Irish pig producers ceased castration more than 20 years ago because boars are more efficient converters of feed into lean meat and a research study had shown that boar taint was not a problem at the carcass weights used in this country at that time.
    • Reducing the nitrate content of protected lettuce.

      Byrne, C.; Maher, J.; Hennerty, J.; Mahon, J.; Walshe, A. (Teagasc, 2001-03-01)
      A research project was carried out jointly between Teagasc, Kinsealy Research Centre and University College Dublin, Department of Crop Science, Horticulture and Forestry which studied the effects of cultivar, nitrogen fertilisation and light intensity on the nitrate content of protected butterhead lettuce. In a series of cultivar trials of winter and summer butterhead lettuce, significant differences in the nitrate content of the lettuce between cultivars were found only in one experiment. In this instance, the differences were not consistent between successive harvests. It was concluded that screening lettuce cultivars for tissue nitrate level is unlikely to contribute to an overall reduction of nitrate levels. The application of N in a liquid feed throughout the cropping period resulted in higher nitrate levels in lettuce plants grown in soil filled containers compared with a similar amount of N applied to the soil before planting. Withdrawing N for the final 10 days of the cropping period did not affect the nitrate content of the lettuce. In an experiment studying nitrogen source and rate on lettuce grown in containers, the use of calcium cyanamide as a N source resulted in lower nitrate levels in the lettuce and gave a reduced head weight compared with calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN) or ammonium sulphate. Increasing the rate of CAN or ammonium sulphate gave higher lettuce nitrate levels. A nitrification inhibitor reduced the soil nitrate levels especially with sulphate of ammonia as the N source but did not affect the plant nitrate levels significantly. The addition of chloride to the soil reduced nitrate levels in the lettuce. In a further fertilisation study using containers, calcium cyanamide again resulted in lower plant nitrate levels than CAN. Increasing the rate of CAN increased soil nitrate levels, lettuce head weight and plant nitrate levels. The relationship between soil nitrate levels, lettuce head weight and plant nitrate level indicates that the level of 100-150 mg·L-1 of nitrate N in the soil, advocated in the Code of Good Practice, is a compromise between maximising plant growth and minimising lettuce nitrate content. A comparison between CAN and calcium cyanamide in a border soil experiment again showed that the latter N source resulted in lower lettuce nitrate levels. In this experiment the addition of chloride to the soil did not affect plant nitrate levels. Lettuce was grown, in late summer, in small tunnels using a range of polyethylene cladding materials. Head weight correlated well with the overall light transmission of the materials. In one of the materials that had a low light transmission, lettuce nitrate content was doubled compared with those grown under the materials with high light transmission. Under both winter and summer conditions, the nitrate content of lettuce heads was not influenced by the time of day at which harvest took place. In experiments in which multiple harvests were carried out there was no consistent trend in nitrate content as the heads developed and matured. Within individual heads of lettuce there was a steep concentration gradient with the older outer leaves having much higher concentrations of nitrate than the younger inner leaves. Herbicides commonly used in protected lettuce production did not influence the nitrate content of the lettuce.
    • Reducing the seasonality of prime lamb production

      Grennan, Eamonn J. (Teagasc, 1998-10-01)
      Lambing part of the national lowland flock in April to late May has potential to reduce the seasonality of supply and extend the season for prime young lamb. This would, potentially, enhance ability to maintain and increase market share for Irish lamb. A farmlet system was operated over two years, with some 50 ewes on 4 ha of pasture. The objectives were: to assess the overall performance of a flock lambing in mid to late April : to monitor lamb growth rate and drafting patterns for lambs; to determine the changes in feed demand over the season; to identify any saving in feed costs, and any difficulties that may arise with late lambing. The feed demand over the grazing season differs from normal March lambing. A grass surplus tends to occur in April/May and a deficit in November/December, and this imbalance between supply and demand increases if lambing is in late May. The balance between feed demand and supply may be more easily achieved where sheep are combined with cattle or tillage. Results show that a late-lambing flock can be managed successfully on an all-grass farm. If lambing takes place from mid-April to late May, some lambs will finish off pasture in September/October. Remainder can be finished indoor on silage with concentrate supplementation for sale in October to February. Lambing from mid-April onwards allows ewes to be at pasture for 4 to 6 weeks pre-lambing and concentrate feeding to ewes pre or post lambing should not be necessary. However this saving on concentrate input is offset by the need for concentrates to finish lambs. Lamb growth rate on pasture to weaning will be somewhat lower than with March lambing, due to deterioration in pasture digestibility in mid-season. A high standard of grassland management is critical to maintain pastures leafy, in order to achieve high lamb growth rate pre and post weaning. Profitability will depend on supplying niche markets with younger lambs at premium prices.