Timely decisions needed to achieve autumn grass targets

Comment: Grass growth rate ranges over the past seven days from 50 up to 90 and in most cases growth is exceeding demand.

This is desirable in context of building average farm cover but in some cases AFC has climbed very high and, with second cut aftergrass returning for grazing in the coming weeks, demand will drop further and AFC may climb too high.

Grass budget is needed to track and predict these changes over the coming months – the decision to cut paddocks or graze through should only be done in conjunction with a grass budget

Target to have at least 400kgDM/lu by end of September/early October up to a limit of 1200 kgDM/ha.

Example below shows a grass budget example with current farm cover of 880 kgDM/ha – all looks on target but there are 3 paddocks between 1900 and 2200kgDM/ha – very strong for grazing.

Agriland 280813 Budget before

What is the consequence of cutting the three high cover paddocks? See below  -If they are cut, the budget shows likelihood of failing to build to the peak cover target of 1200kgDm/ha in this case and therefore will need more purchased feed through October and November to make up the difference. Best decision in this case is not to cut and graze through the heavy covers. Allow 12-hour allowances if grazing conditions deteriorate.

Agriland 280813 Budget after

By Noel Gowen, consultant with Grasstec Dairy Solutions who provide a dairy consultancy, farm infrastructure design and livestock sale service in Ireland and UK.  Noel can be contacted on +353 (0)86 8360285 or [email protected]. Keep an eye out for weekly AgriLand updates on all things grazing including real-life examples of grass budgets through the autumn period.

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