While it has been a fantastic back end to the year grazing wise, all good things must come to an end. At this stage most farms have a good proportion of stock housed with perhaps some lighter cattle still grazing.

Talking to farmers around the country the comment is the same everywhere – that there still is a supply of grass on farm, however the feed value of it may not be great at this stage.

Many farmers are trying to graze off any heavier covers before winter to avoid having facing into poorer quality grass next spring. Farmers should try not to close any paddock with a cover greater than 1000kgDM/ha (around 8cm of grass).

Achieving this on wetter farms is now the challenge as ground conditions have deteriorated significantly in the last fortnight.

Using the lightest weanlings or dairy-beef calves on the farm may be an option in some cases to graze out these paddocks. Where this is not an option and heavy covers remain, consider some form of sheep grazing either with bought in store lambs or bringing in a neighbouring sheep farmer to graze off the ground may be the best approach. However, where this is the case, remember that the sooner it is grazed off the better as it will be resting then for early spring.

Some sheep farmers will have plenty of grass on their own farm at the moment and won’t be able to graze your farm until later into winter and this is not ideal.

Dairy Farmers

Gareth Shortt – Omagh, Co Tyrone

The cows are still out by day but by the weekend they will be housed full time. Each morning they are left out to grass at 10am. They cannot access silage from 5:30am and this ensures they have a good appetite when they go out to grass. Graze outs have been good this autumn. 30 weanling heifers and the in calf heifers are in. There is another 50 weanling heifers still grazing the out farm. We will milk record next week and start to dry off cows after that. We do selective dry cow here so anything with an SCC below 200,000 at all milk recordings this year will only get a sealer and anything above 200,000 or that had a clinical case of mastitis will get an antibiotic tube.

  • Stocking Rate (cows/ha): 3.14
  • Growth Rate (Kg/day): 14
  • Average Farm Cover (kg/ha): 570
  • Yield (L/cow/day): 12.5
  • Fat %: 5.33
  • Protein %: 4.14
  • Milk Solids (kg/cow): 1.23
  • Supplement fed (kg/cow/day): 3
  • Caroline O’Sullivan – Teagasc Curtins

    On the grass only sward growth this week was 19kg DM/ha. Cows are in by night and getting 12 hour grass allocations by day. Over the next week all the groups will be housed full time. Pre grazing covers at the minute are ranging between 1,500-1,800kg DM/ha. Ground conditions are ideal and there is no damage being done. There is 95% of the farm grazed to date and we are watching the AFC very closely. We will not allow the AFC to go below 650kg DM/ha. We target an AFC of 750-800kg DM/ha on 1 December. Empty cows were sold two weeks ago and there has been a small hand full of low yielding early calving cows dried off. Everything will be dry by 16 December.

  • Stocking Rate (cows/ha): 1.9
  • Growth Rate (Kg/day): 19
  • Average Farm Cover (kg/ha): 750
  • Yield (L/cow/day): 12.5
  • Fat %: 5.87
  • Protein %: 4.36
  • Milk Solids (kg/cow): 1.32
  • Supplement fed (kg/cow/day): 3
  • Jamie Kealy – Tullow, Co Carlow

    On Monday cows were housed full time. We close with a high AFC as we have a very high demand in the spring. Our six week calving rate in 2022 will be very close to 100%. The farm is very dry which means we can get out day and night from the start of February. The target opening farm cover is 1,200kg DM/ha. All the first calvers were dried off over the last couple of weeks and everything will be dry by 1 December. We use selective dry cow therapy on the farm. Only cows that had a clinical case of mastitis or cows with a SCC above 100 in any of the 6 milk recordings will get an antibiotic tube. All other cows will get sealer only.

  • Stocking Rate (cows/ha): 3.1
  • Growth Rate (Kg/day): 28
  • Average Farm Cover (kg/ha): 750
  • Yield (L/cow/day): 19
  • Fat %: 4.91
  • Protein %: 4.14
  • Milk Solids (kg/cow): 1.77
  • Supplement fed (kg/cow/day): 3.5
  • Beef farms

    Dwayne Stanley – Thurles, Co Tipperary

    At this stage there are only 35 of the spring-born weanlings grazing the silage ground and they will probably be housed this weekend. Earlier this week, we housed the dairy-beef calves. I am happy with how they have performed this year at grass. I kept them moving on to fresh grass every few days and for most of the season they received no meal. Once they are in and settled I will weigh them which will give us an accurate assessment of performance. There are 53 cows to calve in spring and I am starting the second round of AI for the autumn herd of 45 cows and 29 heifers. Breeding started on 15 October and bulling activity has been very good with just four cows and six heifers yet to be bred.

  • System: Suckler/calf to beef
  • Soil type: Variable
  • Farm cover (kg DM/ha): 580
  • Growth (kg DM/ha/day): 12
  • Demand (kg DM/ha/day): 18
  • Ger McSweeney – Millstreet, Co Cork

    I have the main grazing block closed over two weeks at this stage. There is a batch of in-calf heifers still grazing some of the silage ground. Clean-outs have been excellent which will be a great help when trying to get slurry out in spring. Depending on the rainfall over the next few days, I would imagine all stock will be housed by the weekend.

    All bar one of the finishing heifers are slaughtered at this stage. It is the first year I won’t be finishing heifers out of the shed in spring. This is a change I have been working towards as I feel it best suits this farm. Keeping a close eye on performance at grass this season and growing the heifers on a bit more in the first winter has allowed this to happen.

  • System: Suckler to beef
  • Soil type: Variable
  • Farm cover (kg DM/ha): 617
  • Growth (kg DM/ha/day): N/A
  • Demand (kg DM/ha/day): N/A
  • Brian Geraghty – Dysart, Co Roscommon

    About half the weanlings are still at grass with the other half housed in two batches over the last fortnight. There are one or two heavy covers of grass left which they are working through. Once they are grazed out, all cattle will be housed.

    I drafted the last of the Angus heifers for slaughter two weeks ago so there are no cattle to be housed for finishing. I have silage left over from last year so I am feeding that first which will see me into mid-December all going well.

    Grass is still growing, you can see it in the regrowth of recently grazed paddocks. We had frost on a couple of mornings last week but it is mild again this week. Overall 2021 has been a decent year at grass, despite a slow start in spring.

  • System: Dairy calf to beef
  • Soil type: Variable
  • Farm cover (kg DM/ha): N/A
  • Growth (kg DM/ha/day): N/A
  • Demand (kg DM/ha/day): N/A