As February gives way to March, there will be a growing number of farmers turning cattle out to grass on drier land.

Spring turnout takes excellent management to keep grass in front of cattle, ensure regrowth is coming and prevent ground damage.

Outlined are some tips to turning cattle out to grass.

1. Start with small numbers

Filter cattle out to grass in small groups, ideally starting with light stores that have a lower grazing demand and inflict less ground damage.

Once these animals have settled and you are confident there is enough grass, numbers can build thereafter.

Before turning cattle out, tidy up any missed horns or calves that have yet to be castrated. Make sure booster vaccines have been administered where applicable.

2. Restrict silage intake before turnout

Hungry cattle going out to grass are more likely to settle quickly and start grazing. Restricting silage intakes the day before turn-out can be of benefit in certain instances.

However, avoid turning hungry cattle out to paddocks with a relatively good clover content, as there is a higher risk of bloat.

Target fields with lower clover content. Work around your rotation to include clover swards, allowing animals to acclimatize better.

3. Target morning for turnout

Frost can be common in March, so avoid turning cattle out in late afternoon. Temperatures will be cooling down by this stage, increasing the risk of pneumonia.

Turning cattle out in mid-morning allows animals to settle before temperatures start to cool in the evening.

4. Standing cattle in the handling unit first

When cattle move straight from the shed to fresh grass, animals will start running, leaping and re-establishing a social hierarchy. This can inflict a lot of damage to ground.

Standing cattle in the handling unit for a couple of hours in early morning before going to grass allows cattle to mix and can help reduce the amount of sorting and dozing.

5. Allow cattle to settle before erecting temporary electric wires

Once cattle get out to grass, it can take a while for them to settle. Hold off on putting up any temporary electric fences until animals have settled and started eating.

If fences have been set up in advance of turn-out, there is a strong chance cattle will break the wires as soon they hit grass.

Read more

BSE impact on Brazil’s beef exports

TAMS III: dribble bars dropped, dung spreaders, bale slices and aerators in