Arable farmers urged to introduce sheep to their farms

A report highlighting the benefits of introducing sheep to an arable enterprise has been published by the National Sheep Association (NSA).

The Benefits of Sheep in Arable Rotations, a 16-page document, discusses the advantages of having sheep in arable systems, either for grazing short-term crops such as stubble turnips, or long-term grass and clover leys.

NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: “50 years ago sheep were considered highly useful on arable farms. They supported the rotation and helped keep weeds and cereal pests at bay, while adding manure and nutrients following crops could use.”

According to the report, sheep bring many benefits to an arable farm including improved soil health and structure, help controlling difficult weeds like blackgrass, and an improvement in crop yields.

The report provides guidance on growing crops to feed sheep, an overview of the infrastructure needed to keep sheep, and guidance on any additional rules and regulations which arise from keeping animals.

Mr Stocker added: “With the aim of getting an increasing number of arable farmers to consider the benefits sheep could bring to their system, the report concludes with a checklist of questions for arable farmers to see if sheep really could be the answer to their arable problems.”

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