While grass supply in most cases is good, unfortunately heavy rainfall over the past seven days for some of the Thrive programme farms in the western half of the country means ground conditions have become very difficult.

In most cases, finishing cattle have now moved indoors. This will mean a delay in drafting for slaughter by about a week to 10 days due to the change of diet.

This year’s calves have remained at grass in most instances and should be able to remain outdoors for another fortnight to three weeks where ground conditions allow.

Demonstration farm

On the Thrive demo farm in Cashel, Co Tipperary, finishing stock remain at grass. However, housing will need to be ramped up in the next week to 10 days.

Already, Belgian Blue-sired bullocks have been housed, as they were no way near being finished off grass.

Later this week, the remaining finishing cattle will be gone through and those that are more than three weeks from being slaughtered will be housed over the weekend or early next week.

There will also be a draft of heifers and bullocks picked for slaughter early next week. The hope is to have another 10 to 12 heifers and eight to 10 bullocks slaughtered next Tuesday.

Making the most of grass on the farm

At this stage, grass dry matter is quite low and the majority of the energy in finishing cattle’s diet is coming from the concentrate being fed.

Where this is the case, it may be better to house the finishers and maintain the grass for this year’s calves.

The calves are currently receiving 1kg/day concentrate at grass, which will be increased to 1.5kg/day this week in preparation for housing in two to three weeks’ time.