status: Active

Sheep grazing on Lucerne

This field lab explores using lucerne to improve the resilience of sheep systems in dry arable areas.

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Field Lab Timeline

    1/31/2020 12:00:00 AM
  • Data collection - weather data

    Data collection - weather data
  • 2/1/2020 12:00:00 AM
  • Meeting - trial design and mortality data training

    Meeting - trial design and mortality data training
  • 3/18/2020 12:00:00 AM
  • Blood samples from lucerne and control group

    Blood samples from lucerne and control group
  • 6/16/2020 11:00:00 PM
  • Data collection and open event

    Data collection and open event
  • 7/30/2020 11:00:00 PM
  • Weaning and data collection

    Weaning and data collection
  • 10/14/2020 11:00:00 PM
  • Meeting - first year review

    Meeting - first year review
  • 12/15/2020 12:00:00 AM
  • Annual report

    Annual report
  • 6/14/2021 11:00:00 PM
  • Open event

    Open event
  • 10/14/2021 11:00:00 PM
  • Second year review meeting

    Second year review meeting
  • 12/15/2021 12:00:00 AM
  • Annual report

    Annual report
For further information hover over the above milestone marks
  • Discussion

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  • Achievements

    April 2020

    Webinar - all welcome to join

    Join us online on 12th May at 6pm for a webinar hosted by Innovative Farmers: 'Can we graze sheep on lucerne in the UK? A webinar for farmers and advisers with lessons from New Zealand'.

    Register here --->


    David Cross -
    David farms a dry mixed farm in North Norfolk and started the trial as he was looking for ways to provide reliable forage during the summer. David has experience working on and managing a beef and sheep units in New Zealand and North America, where lucerne is widely used. He will talk through his learnings from his time in New Zealand and how he intends to apply these lessons in the UK.

    Dr Liz Genever, AHDB and farmer -
    Liz Genever is the researcher and coordinator of this farmer-led trial. She has a technical background in sheep and beef fertility and breeding, and grass and forage management. Liz will introduce the plan for the project, which runs over two grazing seasons.

    Both David and Liz will talk about how they are approaching and mitigating potential risks to sheep health related to the research, including strict monitoring and early interventions to prevent gut issues and deficiencies. They will also explore the grazing pattern and rotation plan that’s being carried out to ensure regrowth and cover practicalities around establishment and why they chose to grow pure stands and not mixes.

    The event will be chaired by Kate Still, a farming advisor at the Soil Association, specialising in livestock health and welfare.

    Register here --->

    Milestone: Open event

    April 2020

    Initial observations on lamb health and weeds

    One of the farmers' observations so far: "We have just started lambing on the lucerne seems to be no problems so fair with lambs popping out and to their feet as normal, also no visible signs of any adverse affects on the ewes and plenty of milk about... so all is well (finger crossed). The ewes have done a nice job of taking out most of the annual weeds and the cover is still building". Further measurements to come...

    Milestone: Data collection and open event

    March 2020

    Blood samples taken

    Blood samples have been taken from sheep fed on lucerne and those in the control group (no lucerne). The samples will provide data on energy, protein and trace elements - cobalt and selenium.

    Milestone: Blood samples from lucerne and control group

    February 2020

    Trial design decided

    Full details of the trial schedule can be found in the documents section of this page.

    Blood samples will be taken every March from the control group and the lambs fed on lucerne. This will assess energy, protein and trace elements of cobalt and selenium.

    Faecal egg counts will be taken from ewes and lambs in various months between March and September each year.

    Lamb eight week weights and 90 day weights will be recorded, as well as mortality data.

    Sward height of the lucerne crop, plus stock numbers will be recorded from July to November.

    Milestone: Meeting - trial design and mortality data training

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