Keep grass in cows diet for as long as possible

It is vitally important to keep grass in the milking cows’ diet for as long as possible this autumn. It will save on scarce silage and it will reduce the level of expensive meals that need to be fed. Start closing paddocks from the 10th October onwards (1-2 weeks earlier in wet areas) and aim to have 60% of the farm closed by the end of the first week of November (1-2 weeks earlier in wet areas). This is important in order to ensure that you will have sufficient build up of grass over the winter in to let the cows out early in spring.

It is vitally important to keep grass in the milking cows’ diet for as long as possible this autumn. It will save on scarce silage and it will reduce the level of expensive meals that need to be fed. Start closing paddocks from the 10th October onwards (1-2 weeks earlier in wet areas) and aim to have 60% of the farm closed by the end of the first week of November (1-2 weeks earlier in wet areas). This is important in order to ensure that you will have sufficient build up of grass over the winter in to let the cows out early in spring.

Autumn grazing Planner

Allocate a portion of the farm for grazing each day. There are 21 days between October 10 and November 1. Calculate 60% of the total grazing area available and divide this by 21. This is the area of grass to be allocated daily. E.g. if the milking platform is 30 ha, 60% or 18 ha must be closed by November first. 18 ha divided by 21days is and allocation of .86ha (2.1acs) per day. The other 40% (12 ha) will be closed off from November 1st to housing. This will leave the grazing platform with an “adequate grass cover” when the cows are housed. If the daily allocation of grass is insufficient to meet the requirements of the cows then the deficit will have to be made up with good quality baled silage and/or meals. If you are unsure how to calculate the daily allocation your Teagasc adviser will calculate an autumn grass plan for your farm.

Rotation length

Rotation length must be 45 days by the start of the last rotation and grass covers should peak at 450 kg DM/cow or 1150kg/DM/ha by late September. If necessary slow down the rotation by reducing stocking rate and/or introducing supplementary feeding. Do not build up too much grass as heavy covers are difficult to graze under wet conditions and will delay the achievement of the 60% target.

Autumn grazing - guidelines - -Graze paddocks to 3.5-4 cm to encourage winter tillering of the grass plant. Do not regraze fields that have been closed. Feed supplements if there is insufficient grass in the daily allocation. Skip heavier paddocks and graze paddocks with ideal covers to meet 60% target if necessary. Use wet weather grazing techniques if ground conditions deteriorate. Dairy tips for October - 13 times a week milking works on farms where the bulk milk SCC level is less than 200,000 cells per ml.

SCC levels are currently rising on dairy farms: tackle suspect cows when the bulk

tank count rises above 300,000 cells per ml. Foot bath your cows early this month and again towards the end of October. This will harden hooves and eliminate Mortellaro disease before housing begins.

Light replacement heifers, both weanlings and in-calf heifers, will respond well to meal feeding at autumn grass. Feed 1.5kg per head per day of a 15% crude protein ration.

First lactation animals that have performed well in their first lactation will be at a body condition score of 2.75 or less as they move through October. These animals will need a dry period of 12 weeks to ensure that they calve down at the correct body condition score next February.

Getting the best value form slurry

This year slurry can be spread up until the 31st October. All tanks should be completely empty before this date. Use slurry in early October to supply Nitrogen for late growth of grass.

Do not spread on very wet soils, on very wet days, near streams, rivers, wells (there are specified distances). Have consideration for neighbours and don’t spread too close to them. Where necessary advise them not to hang out washing. Apply 1000 – 2000 gallons of slurry per acre. Spread on silage ground as far as possible because on most farms phosphate is adequate (maybe too high) on the grazing area. Remember, every 1000 gallons of slurry supplies the equivalent of 1 bag 0:7:30. If you are exporting or importing slurry, it must be done before 31st October to comply with N derogation rules.

We are all very aware of the recent tragedy in a slurry tank in Northern Ireland. Accidents during slurry spreading occur far too often so be very careful. Slurry gas kills without warning (no smell), therefore, no person or animal should be in the shed during agitation (a windy day also helps to avoid trouble). Agitation and emptying points must be protected during this work as many lives have been lost at this point. Don’t agitate if your PTO shaft is not protected as you are dicing with death. If you are going onto the public road have warning signs at the farmyard and field exits and also keep the road clean of muck to avoid car crashes (you may be liable).

Farm Walk

A Teagasc Glanbia dairy farm walk will be held on the farm of Pierce and Adrian Casey, Faha, Kilmacthomas on Thursday October 4 at 11am. Pierce and Adrian are farming in a milk production partnership since 2007. The partnership has facilitated expansion in milk production of 88% in the last five years, where milk quota has increased from 80,000 gallons to 150,000 gallons. The farm walk will cover farm breeding policies on the farm, grassland management, expansion costs in dairy farming, farm partnerships and improving dairy farm lifestyles. This is a DEP approved event. All are welcome.

Teagasc Kildalton College Careers Day

Teagasc Kildalton College will hold a Careers Day on Friday October 5th. Tours of the college facilities commence at 10.00am and 11.00am. Full details will be available on all Teagasc and third level courses in Agriculture, Farm management Dairy herd management, Drystock management, Farm machinery and crop management, Horticulture, Horse breeding and training and joint courses with WIT. This is an opportunity for prospective students to view the magnificent facilities that Kildalton has to offer and to discuss courses and opportunities with staff. All are welcome.