Grazing grass to the right height

Grazing and grass management will be a key part in the Teagasc Beef Open Day tomorrow. Teagasc advisor Ned Heffernan says farmers will be taken through a selection of sites which have been grazed to show the different variants between pre-grazing and post-grazing swards.

The demonstration has eight plots that are replicated to show them being grazed on a weekly basis from 35, 28, 21, 14 and seven days. “We can show farmers exactly what sward height to put cattle out at, and they and they can see too strong sward, which will have too much stem and result in a reduced performance in cattle. Grass coverage that is too light will see you run down your grazing days ahead and you will run out of grass.”

He said the optimum grass height will give the best return and it will be grazed out well. The layout of the plots beside each other will allow farmers to see the different stages side-by-side and see what they need to do on their own farm, he said.

“The optimum is 21-days rotation. On top of that there is an optimum height of 9-10cm of grass. This will be on display and farmers can see for themselves exactly what this looks like.

“It’s a great visual exhibition for farmers to see. All farmers are putting cattle into paddocks that are probably gone too strong, so this will show them what the correct height is. You can read about what 9cm is, but when you see it in front of you it’s different. You can talk about sward heights, but the farmer should leave here and know when his paddock is gone too strong and when he should be taking his stock out when grass is at a certain height.”

He said that fellow advisor Padraig Kiely has given him an estimate DMD of each sward depending on the grass height and this too, will be discussed on the day.

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