Atrocious weather conditions over the past week or more have left soils at saturation point for many, though drier farms or those in areas such as the northwest which haven’t seen the same volume of rainfall are getting cows out by day.
Any advice on getting ground grazed off when some paddocks are sitting under water in parts of the east are very tongue in cheek, with no advice to give for grazing grass in inches of water.
Those that are getting out are doing so mainly by grazing by day in 3-hour bouts. While it may seem a lot of effort, it will help reduce the winter feed bill by keeping grass in the diet and maintaining solids without excessive meal levels.
Cows can get up to 90% of their dry matter intake through these two periods of grazing, though this is likely closer to 80% with the low dry matter of grass at the minute.
Water shouldn’t be a concern when allocating 3-hour strips, as the short grazing period matched with watery grass shouldn’t require access to a water trough.
Keep allocations as square as possible and avoid narrow strips which will have cows walking up and down a fence line, walking in more grass than they eat.
Utilisation rates have been poor owing to the wet weather, so farms may find that they have exceeded their target of percentage of ground closed up at this point.
Though it’s important to whip off heavy covers on paddocks, farmers should be conscious of depleting farm cover and the effects this might have on next spring’s grazing rotation.
Assess the percentage of ground closed and the farm cover and act on the results.
Michael Quigley – Nenagh, Co Tipperary
Cows have been in by night since the middle of last week due to weather. We usually don’t like to stay out by day and in by night on a normal year.
We have 90% of the farm closed now, and we aim to close off the farm at around 800kg Dm/ha.
We have a few heavy paddocks left at 2,000kg DM/ha and we’ll get them grazed off. I’ve been waiting to see if weather would improve, but I’ll have to bite the bullet now.
Cows are on 8kg DM of baled silage. I try to have them hungry going to grass but their appetite to graze is gone in the last week.
Stocking Rate (cow/ha) 2.9
Growth Rate (kg/day) 31
Average Farm Cover (kg/ha) 750
Yield (l/cow) 14.5
Milk Solids (kg/cow) 1.5
Gerry McGuire – Horse & Jockey Co, Tipperary
Cows are in by night but out by day to keep grass in the diet. Ground conditions are holding up for the amount of rain we’ve got.
We have around 74% of the farm closed now. We are slightly over target, but we’ll keep grazing while we have the opportunity.
The next couple of paddocks have PGY of 1,600kg DM/ha.
I follow a grass budget for the autumn. AFC is 714kg DM/ha and I plan to graze down to 580-600kg DM/ha.
If we can keep cows out for another 10 days to two weeks, I’ll be happy to pull them in for the winter.
Stocking Rate (cow/ha) 2.8
Growth Rate (kg/day) 25
Average Farm Cover (kg/ha) 714
Yield (l/cow) 12
Milk Solids (kg/cow) 1.25
David Gannon – Craughwell, Co Galway
Cows have been in by night five of the last seven days and will remain in for the rest of the grazing season. We have been missing grazings with weather, but we can get them out most days for three hours.
We fell behind with grazing targets but have caught up again in the last week. There is 67% of the farm closed and we aim for 70% by 1 November.
I plan to graze for another 10 days and close out at 750kg DM/ha on 1 December.
We have 20% of the herd dried off. We dried first calvers and cows needing more time which will drop demand.
Stocking Rate (cow/ha) 2.71
Growth Rate (kg/day) 17
Average Farm Cover (kg/ha) 617
Yield (l/cow) 11
Milk Solids (kg/cow) 1.08