From the outset of the Tullamore Farm project, there was a big investment in grazing infrastructure in terms of fencing, water supply and farm roadways.
This was necessary in order to run the required stocking rate, achieve a high level of grass growth and utilisation and facilitate getting cows in for AI breeding on what is a one labour unit system.
Good infrastructure was also necessary to allow the practice of mixed grazing on the farm.
Research has shown that grazing cattle and sheep within the one grazing system can result in higher daily liveweight gains, and the ability to run a slightly higher stocking rate due to the differing grazing habits of the two animal types.
Later in the season, calves will also start to spend more time forward creep grazing ahead of the cows
Farm manager Shaun Diver manages the mixed grazing by dividing every paddock in two with a single strand of electric wire. The sheep can pass freely under this and creep graze ahead of the cows.
Shaun says that the sheep tend to spend most of the time in the area away from the cows.
Later in the season, calves will also start to spend more time forward creep grazing ahead of the cows which allows them access to the best-quality grass on farm at all times.
Grass measuring takes place at least once a week, sometimes more often during peak grass growth. Shaun says this takes about two hours to complete but the information he gains makes it worthwhile.
I can see what grass is coming ahead of me and where there might be a pinch point in the future
“It allows me to make grazing decisions 10 days or two weeks prior to an issue arising. I can see what grass is coming ahead of me and where there might be a pinch point in the future. This allows me to make better decisions, sooner. That may mean changing fertiliser dates or rates, altering stocking rates on the ground, or where there is a real shortage, planning for supplementation with meal or silage for a period of time.”
Current grass supply
Grass growth over the last few weeks has been slow.
A fortnight ago, average growth was just 23kgDM/ha. The current grass demand sits at 46kg DM/day, meaning every day we were grazing more grass than we were growing, which resulted in the average farm cover dropping to just over 500kgDM/ha – lower than we would like at this stage of the year.
Growth for the last seven days has averaged 54kg DM/ha
However, things have improved over the last week or so with increased daytime temperatures.
Growth for the last seven days has averaged 54kg DM/ha and where we were planning on introducing concentrates to cows a fortnight ago to slow down the rotation, we can now see that we will grow enough grass to avoid this situation.