As the saying goes, what is rare is wonderful and turning stock out to grass on 1 December is definitely rare, but getting the chance to graze off the last of the heavy grass covers has been a real bonus on the Thrive demonstration farm in Cashel, Co Tipperary.

There was around six acres of ground that had covers in excess of 2,200kg DM/ha on the farm that really needed to be grazed off.

Wet weather and poor underfoot conditions had seen the 2022-born stock housed a few weeks ago, but given the drier weather and improvement in conditions, farmer John Hally turned out 110 weanlings again on Thursday 1 December.

Rapid grazing

It was decided to turn out a decent number of stock to give us decent grazing pressure and to move across ground quite rapidly.

The cattle received daily allocations of grass to ensure they were getting a fresh bite each day and no meal was fed while stock were outside to reduce any damage to ground and to help improve intakes at pasture.

We knew stock would only be out for a week to 10 days, so removing meal for this short period of time was not going to have any long-term negative effects.

Grass utilisation was good given the time of year, although stock were not forced to graze out paddocks too tightly.

On Monday evening, having gotten through the heaviest of the covers, the stock returned to the sheds.

Heavy covers

The first paddocks closed in autumn have quite heavy covers on them, some over 1,000kg DM/ha.

It was debated whether or not some of these should be grazed out, but given that they are close to the yard, the decision was made to leave them until spring and perhaps do some on-off grazing with the lightest batch of stock once ground conditions allow.