‘Over grazing paddocks could come at a cost next spring’

Over grazing paddocks now could lead to a shortage of grass on dairy farms next Spring, according to Teagasc Dairy Specialist Vincent Tracey.

“It has been a great autumn for grass growth,” said the Navan-based advisor.

“Daily grass growth levels in the Co. Meath area are currently well over 20kgDM/ha.

In some cases this is double the figure we could expect for the beginning of November.

“As a result, spring-calving cows are able to receive their entire dietary requirements from grazed grass at the present time.

“But farmers must now start thinking about the grazing needs of their cows next spring. And in this regard, we are strongly advising dairy producers to close off their grazing platforms once the average grass cover across the farm falls to 650kgDM/ha.

“This may result in a scenario where some paddocks could be closed off with covers in excess of 1,000kgDM/ha. But the key figure which farmers must take account of is the average cover level across the farm as a whole.”

Tracey confirmed that grass palatability remains excellent.

Ground conditions are excellent. As a result, there is very little spoilage from a grazing perspective.

“Grass dry matters are currently in the region of 13%. All of this adds up to a welcome opportunity for dairy farmers to produce significant quantities of milk at a relatively low cost.”

The Teagasc advisor said that first and second cut silage quality on farms in the Meath area is exceptionally good.

“This is based on the samples that have been analysed over the past couple of weeks. DMD values in the region 74 to 77 are not uncommon.  This is in total contrast to the situation that prevailed in 2014.

“But farmers in the Co. Meath area always strive to make good silage.”

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