For the ever diminishing number of farmers with stock still at grass, the past week has been a battle to keep fresh grass under cattle’s heads, with poor utilisation and ground being damaged during periods of heavy rainfall.
Grazing has come to a halt on many farms at this stage but where there is stock at grass they are becoming more unsettled due to low dry matters.
The forecast for the remainder of the week and into the weekend remains broken, with periods of heavy rainfall at times. For many, it will mark the end of grazing as ground conditions become too sticky to justify remaining at pasture.
Unfortunately, it means that there will be farms closed with a lot of grass this winter, unless there is a sheep enterprise on the farm.
While this is not ideal, there is no point damaging ground trying to graze out heavy covers with stock unsettled and performing poorly.
There might be an opportunity in early spring to get stock out to graze these heavier covers if conditions allow which would be a better use of grass.
Where stock are to remain at pasture for the foreseeable, having a roughage source out with them is advisable to allow animals to get sufficient fibre into the system during periods of heavy and persistent rainfall.
Reduce group sizes to minimise damage to ground and try to have stock moving to fresh grazing every day or two in order to help keep them settled.
Diarmuid Murray – Knockcroghery, Co Roscommon
Ground conditions have deteriorated significantly and so we are housing the beef cattle this week. About half were housed last weekend while the rest are due to come in on Wednesday.
I will keep in-calf dairy heifers out for another fortnight if possible to graze off heavier covers, but it will depend on rainfall in the coming days.
Ten Angus and Friesian finishing bullocks and heifers are still at grass, but they are due to be slaughtered in the coming days. They have been getting 6kg of meal at grass.
There were 12 cattle slaughtered this week and I am happy with their performance, especially the Angus cattle.
There should be plenty of silage for the winter, second cut silage is feeding well at 72%DMD and 13.5% protein.
System Dairy calf to beef
Soil type Mostly dry
Farm cover (kg DM/ha) 728
Growth (kg DM/ha/day) 22
Demand (kg DM/ha/day) 30
Willie Treacy – Hackballscross, Co Louth
I have all stock housed except the autumn herd, and how long they stay out will depend on the next two days. I have enough grass to keep them out for another 10-14 days if the weather plays ball.
The bulls went out last week and I would like to get a few weeks of breeding done before housing.
I am allocating 24-hour breaks to stock and on wet days I am moving them morning and evening. Utilisation has been ok, but on a wet day if they are grazing a heavy cover it can be poor.
I did zero graze 14ac of ground that had heavy covers and it worked out very well.
Growth is still very strong for the time of year, even what is grazed you can see coming back after a few days rest.
System Suckler to beef
Soil type Free draining
Farm cover (kg DM/ha) 537
Growth (kg DM/ha/day) 32
Demand (kg DM/ha/day) 33
Shaun Diver –Tullamore Farm, Co Offaly
There are 15 in-calf heifers, 35 weanling heifers and 10 bull weanlings still at grass but they will be housed by the weekend.
The weanlings are getting a small amount of meal but they are grazing good quality grass, so they are not overly pushed about meal. Ground conditions are not bad but utilisation has nosedived in the last week.
Whatever grass is left will be needed for the ewes. Breeding for the mature ewes is 14 days in, and I’d say 85% to 90% of ewes are tipped.
The rams will go out with the ewe lambs in the coming days. I drafted 28 more lambs for slaughter this week which leaves just 31 on farm.
The ram lambs have a creep feeder with them and the ewe lambs are getting around 500g/day of concentrate.
System Suckler to beef
Soil type Variable
Farm cover (kg DM/ha) 920
Growth (kg DM/ha/day) 47
Demand (kg DM/ha/day) 23