‘Closing paddocks now is critical for spring grass’

Closing paddocks now is critical for grass next spring, according to Teagasc’s Patrick Moylan.

The Business and Technology Dairy Advisor was speaking at a recent Teagasc/Glanbia Monitor Farm walk in Cuffsgrange, Co. Kilkenny.

According to Moylan, dairy farmers should now start focusing on the grass that will be available for their cows next spring and trying to balance cash flow from grass produced milk this autumn may not be wise in the long run.

“Don’t go hell for leather in milk production now at the expense of grass growth in the spring of 2016, closing paddocks now is critical for spring grass. Farmers should aim for a 650kg closing cover.”

Moylan also said that what happens in the next month on-farm will have an impact on cash flow, as this is dictated by the grass available for the cows in the spring of 2016.

Neglecting this issue, he said, will impact cash flow in the long run rather than just a couple of months this year.

According to the Dairy Advisor, farmers should aim to have 60% of their farm grazed by November 1. He also gave an example of how to implement this strategy on a 100ac farm.

“To close 60% of the farm by November 1, farmers should be grazing 2ac each day from now on, from November on this should reduced to approximately 1ac each day.

“A paddock with a 50kg dry matter cover at closing will be 1,000kg by next February, the majority of this growth will occur between now and the mid-November when 80% of this growth occurs.

“So it is important to close paddocks now for grass next spring.”

The Kilkenny-based advisor added that these figures will have to be adjusted if there is a higher stocking or compact calving pattern.

On farms where this is the case, he said the 60:40 planner could be altered slightly to a ratio of 80:20 or 70:30.

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