On the majority of suckler farms, cattle are likely to be on their final grazing rotation from this week onwards.
Weather depending, cattle are likely to remain at grass on drier farms until late October or early November. On heavy farms, cattle will likely finish up grazing in the next fortnight.
Before housing gets under way, outlined are five tips to make best use of autumn grass and finish out the grazing season.
1 Target wet and heavy paddocks for priority grazing
Ground conditions are reasonably good on most farms at present, so target the wetter and heaviest paddocks for priority grazing this week, while they are able to carry cattle.
Once the weather breaks, it will be harder to graze these paddocks. In some cases, they may not be grazed again until spring.
Targeting these paddocks now will prevent a mat of dead grass accumulating over winter. It will also allow them to get slurry before ground conditions deteriorate.
2 Paddock size
Paddock size should be much more flexible in autumn to react to weather and ground conditions. In dry conditions, paddocks can be reduced to suit a 48- or 72-hour allocation to improve utilisation.
In wet conditions, the paddock size will need increasing. But try to stick with a 24- and 48-hour allocation to prevent animals poaching swards.
3 Strip grazing
If paddocks are carrying plenty of grass, strip grazing is an option while ground conditions are good. Moving the wire every 24 hours greatly improves grass utilisation, helping clean out paddocks.
But once the weather breaks, it can be harder to manage. Once cattle eat their daily allocation, they can quickly become unsettled. Moving the wire every 12 hours or giving a bigger grass allocation can help to keep animals settled.
4 Back fencing
Grazed areas with low grass covers are prone to poaching in autumn. Using a temporary electric wire to back-fence cattle off grazed areas will prevent paddocks from being damaged.
Again, depending on the location of the paddock, using a back fence can allow watery slurry to be applied to grazed areas before the closed period.
5 Grazing pressure
Being flexible with the size of grazing groups will also affect grass utilisation. While ground is dry, keeping cattle in larger groups will improve utilisation.
But once ground begins to get sticky, spreading cattle out in smaller groups across the farm will limit sward damage and improve utilisation.