There will be four more paddocks, about 4ha (10 acres), taken out for silage this weekend on the Irish Farmers Journal’s dairy beef demonstration farm near Cashel, Co Tipperary.
Grass growth has been excellent for the last 10 days and essentially every day the farm has been growing more grass than what the yearlings and calves are eating. This means some of the paddocks have gone too strong for grazing and it is better to take them out so that the grass is back growing again.
It’s expensive but it makes great feed and keeps livestock eating greener, better-quality grass, which drives weight gain.
Two issues were highlighted this week. Firstly, a batch of 36 weaned calves are settled at grass, but are also getting 1.5kg of meal per head per day. When we considered this, it’s probably 60% of the total diet for these calves, which is probably around 2.5kg in total. The grass is growing over the ditches and quality is excellent, so why keep feeding them? Hard to justify the meal. Remember, these calves are probably 120kg to 130kg total weight and grass quality and weather is excellent. If that changes then maybe it would be worth reconsidering at a later date.
The second issue is the yearling bullocks and heifers seem to be flying. No weighing has been completed since turnout. You would expect they have been gaining 1kg per day liveweight.
All cattle were weighed the week before turnout. Bullocks averaged just shy of 350kg having achieved a daily live weight gain of 1.17kg/day over the winter period. The heifers managed in excess of 1kg/day liveweight gain and head to grass at an average weight of just over 335kg.
Concentrates were fed at a rate of 2kg/hd over the winter period fed alongside 76DMD first-cut grass silage. Meal feeding ceased about a month prior to turnout to ease the transition from the indoor, to grass diet.
So if you assume a 1kg per day weight gain at grass, the bullocks are over 400kg liveweight and the heifers heading for 370kg on average.
In summary - walk the grass and take action. Growth is flying so even if you cut it will be back in grazing within three weeks. Calves are thriving so ask yourself do they need meal if grass supply and quality is excellent. Yearling bullocks and heifers are thriving so maintain grass quality and you’ll keep them on the upward weight gain curve rather than summer stagnation.