Potential for beef farms to make better use of autumn grass

Cattle grazing at Teagasc Grange (3)

There is the potential on many beef farms to make better use of grass in the autumn according to Teagasc.

In its latest advisory update to beef farmers it says August is the month to start building up grass covers on fields and paddocks so that you can increase the number of days that cattle can stay at grass before being housed for the winter. Up to now an ideal rotation length has been 18 to 22 days. By the middle of September it should be extended to over 35 days.

Teagasc highlights that this takes a good deal of planning. it says in August, average grass growth rates per day are usually still above the daily demand for grass and this allows you to increase your rotation length, whereas this may not be the case in September when it will be too late to have much of an impact. From August 10 onwards, start increasing the covers of grass that you are targeting to graze.

Instead of aiming to be grazing 1,300 to 1,600kg DM per ha (9-10cm), gradually move towards pre-grazing covers of 2,000 to 2,300 (12-13cm). Covers above 2,500kg DM per ha (14cm) should still be taken out as surplus round bales.

However, Teagasc notes that farmers should avoid removing paddocks from late August onwards as they will not have enough time to grow a worthwhile amount of grass to contribute towards the last rotation. Continue to graze out swards tightly with suckler cows (avoid forcing growing weanlings/cattle to stay too long in a paddock).

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