Every extra day out on grass, is worth €2.70/cow and €2/LU of drystock, according to Teagasc.
In inclement weather it’s critical to keep cows well fed, limit damage to paddocks, and strive for grazing residuals of 4cm.
The average farm cover (AFC) is 932kgDM/ha, according to Pasture Base Ireland.
Grazing needs to be aggressive in spring because there is a lot of grass on farms.
As a result, every opportunity to feed grass to the cows should be taken.
Walking your farm is the only method for you to know whether a paddock is suitable for grazing. Decisions about grass management and grazing cannot be made in the farmyard; they must be made in the field!
To get started with grazing: Walk the farm, assess ground conditions and grass covers in each paddock. (Record on PastureBase). If you’re not signed up with PastureBase; contact your local Teagasc advisor. Please note; farmers applying for Nitrates Derogation 2022 will be required to complete one grass measure in February 2022.
Grazing targets to meet:
The target is to have a 30% grazed by March 1 so you must have a plan to reach this target on the farm. Identify the drier paddocks, best infrastructure with multiple access points or paddocks with a low cover (800-1000KgDM/Ha).
When weather improves, graze the heavier covers. (Ideally, these should be grazed only after the 30% grazing target has been achieved). Make every effort to get cows out for two to three hours on these paddocks after each milking (strip graze/ back-fence).
On/off grazing is ideal for getting grass into the cows’ diet, when the weather is unsettled. Have plenty sets of reels and pigtail posts ready.
Remember a herd of cows can achieve 90% of their daily grass intake in three hours after each milking compared to cows out full-time.
Use PastureBase website/app to create a spring grass budget and spring rotation planner. This gives you farm-specific information that lets you keep track of your grass supplies and supplement levels.
By grazing a defined area each day, the spring rotation planner takes the guesswork out of grazing management. It will guide you achieve the target of 30% grazed by March 1 and 65-70% grazed by March 17 to ensure that you will be starting your 2nd rotation in early April (5 to 10).
On heavier land, adjust these dates by seven to 10 days. For example if you have a dry farm area of50ha, the target is 15ha by March 1; 30ha by St Patrick’s Day and 100% by April 5.
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