15 Aug 2022

Short of grass on beef farms?

The key is to maintain 12 -14 days of grass ahead of stock. The rotation length must be maintained, even if this requires fairly heavy supplementation. You should be aiming to go into covers of grass that are 9 to 10 cm (1,400 to 1,600 kg DM per ha.).

The key is to maintain 12 -14 days of grass ahead of stock. The rotation length must be maintained, even if this requires fairly heavy supplementation. You should be aiming to go into covers of grass that are 9 to 10 cm (1,400 to 1,600 kg DM per ha.).

In periods of high grass growth the 10 cm target is often exceeded leading to poor quality grass in the animal’s diet. In periods of very low grass growth on medium to heavily stocked farms demand can exceed growth and rotation length shortens too much.  By grazing covers less than 9 cm overall farm growth drops further making matters worse. To avoid this:- a.Slow or stop the rotation so low covers are not eaten – housing, fodder at grass, grazing some silage ground etc. b.Increase grass growth – nitrogen should continue to be spread so when conditions improve, growth will return quickly

Avoid at all costs soiling large areas of grass in wet weather as it can be weeks before it will be able to be grazed again even if weather improves dramatically.  This completely then shortens your rotation length on the remaining ‘clean’ grass. Severe over grazing can delay recover of grass. The introduction of supplementation (silage or meals) should be done before grass cover on the farm declines to a serious extent. It should be maintained for the poor growth conditions and for 2-3 weeks after grass starts to re-grow.

Options for Filling the Gap: Re-house and feed silage. Will it upset animals? Re-housing for a short period of time will not affect animals. Do I need to feed meals? Stores & weanlings should get silage only. Bulls for finishing later in the year should get 2-3 kg of meals. Graze and offer silage. Avoid doing significant damage to paddocks with round feeders. Place feeders at the gate or possibly on a laneway. Graze and feed meals. Feed 2-3 kg meals, where required. This can be fed under the wire to avoid damaging fields.

Graze silage ground. It should be strip grazed to maximise utilisation.


Maize - There is very little maize sown to date as soil temperatures remain well below normal. Early sown plastic crops have 1-2 leaves under the plastic.

Sowing - Sowing can proceed when soil temperatures are above 8ºC. Drill 100-110,000 seeds/ha.

Prepare a fine, firm seedbed 10-12 cm (4-5 inches) deep similar to that for beet crops. Only roll after sowing under very dry soil conditions. Research (Irl. and N. Irl.) has shown that covering with plastic will increase DM yield by about 3 t/ha (range 1-5 t/ha), will increase starch and ensure the crop reaches maturity. The cost of plastic is about €300/ha+. Maize varieties are very specific and need careful selection and agronomy to get the best effect from plastic.

Fertilisers - Fertilisers are a major cost of maize so a S4 Soil Test is essential before sowing the

crop. Trace elements are important, particularly zinc and manganese. All or part of the P and K requirements can be supplied by slurry. N & P rates as per Nitrates Directive. All fertiliser should be applied pre-sowing. However, continental work indicates benefits from

placing some N and P at sowing. Consider placing 125-185 kg/ha (1-1.5 bags/acre) of Super

Phosphate 16% P or Maize Starter (14.4%N; 16%P; 0K; 1%Cu; 2%Zn; 1%Mn) or 10-10-20 at sowing in open crops. Placement of N & P is very beneficial where maize is planted after breaking permanent grassland. This is not as critical in plastic crops as high soil temperatures under plastic cover increase the availability of phosphorous.

Pests - Monitor pests immediately after sowing and up to the four leaf stage. Slugs and leatherjackets can be controlled with methiocarb slug pellets e.g. Draza Elite at 3-5 kg/ha depending on the level of pest attack. Chlorpyrifos (Dursban, Clinch etc) will control leatherjackets and is best applied in the evening with some soil moisture.

Weed Control - Maize needs 30 - 50 days weed free after sowing to avoid a weed penalty (up to 50% yield loss in Teagasc trials). Use glyphosate before sowing for perennial weeds and to lower the overall weed burden. Residual products work best on fine seedbeds with some moisture after spraying.

Plastic Crops - Apply full rate pendimethalin (PDM) + Cadou Star 0.75 kg/ha or PDM + Calaris 1.5 l/ha at

sowing. Weed control between the rows of plastic is difficult especially if the weather is dry after sowing or difficult brassica weeds are prevalent. A follow-up spray of an appropriate post-emergence product may be necessary if weeds come through. (note: only 1 application of Calaris is allowed per season) On ‘newish’ ground, pendimethalin (PDM) on its own may suffice. Excellent sprayer hygiene is necessary to ensure maximum herbicide efficiency of these mixes.

Open Crops - The main choice for use post-emergence will be Calaris (4 – 6 leaf stage) at 1.0 – 1.5 l/ha

depending on the weed challenge. Pre-emergence options (as per plastic crops) are less popular but worked very well in Teagasc trials. Difficult weeds such as thistle, scutch, wild oats and volunteer potatoes will need specialist follow-up herbicides such as Accent, Clorpyralid, Titus or Fluroxypyr for effective control.


Registration of equine premises - Since 1 May 2012, it is against the law to keep a horse (or other equine) on a premises that is not registered with the Department of Agriculture. An equine premises is a premises (with or without land) in which a horse, donkey, mule, pony etc. is kept either on a full-time ‘permanent’ basis (farms etc) or on a temporary/transient basis (shows/ veterinary clinics/ farriers/ sales etc.) Anyone who owns or has charge of an equine premises regardless of whether he or she owns the equines must register.

The reason for registering and record keeping is to enable the Department to have information on the location of horses and their contacts with other horses in order that in the event of a disease outbreak, owners can be alerted and advised of any necessary precautions. Registered persons must keep records of the equines on the premises and the movement of equines off and on to the premises. As soon as a premises is registered, it will be given a registration number and information as to what type of records are required for the premises.

Application forms on which to register may be obtained from the Department’s regional offices or from the Department’s Animal Health Division, tel. 01 6072466 or from the Department’s website:

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