The change brought about by the weather over the past few weeks, has left grazing that bit more challenging. Especially when it comes to starting effective grazing rotations and reaching the proposed targets.
However, through a process of strategic grassland management, Aidan Maguire – a participant of the Teagasc Green Acres Calf to Beef programme – is on the right road to shortly get through his first rotation.
Speaking to Agriland this week, Aidan explained:
“Currently there are 30 autumn 2019-born cattle and last year’s group of 110 yearlings [weighing around 300-320kg] out at grass and we are flying with the grazing season so far this spring.
My target was to have 78% of the platform grazed by this week and I am currently hitting 80%, so I am bang on the button.
This target has taken planning, with Aidan having to rehouse his weanlings every evening for the months of January and February, and then letting them out again in the mornings provided ground conditions were suitable.
For the month of March, Aidan stated that he was able to keep his animals out for the majority of the month. Although with the forecast for this weekend not showing strong signs of dry weather, Aidan rehoused one of the three grazing groups of weanlings due to the next paddock being too wet for them move to.
Fertiliser plan for grazing
Every paddock has received on application of urea at a rate 35 units/ac. In terms of the slurry spread on the farm, Aidan stated:
“Close to 75% of the farm has received an application of slurry, with some fields getting slurry in early January and now coming up for grazing. As fields were grazed, I went out with slurry on them because the ground was too bare to spread urea on it.
“In the early few weeks of April I will target heading out with a second application of urea for the second rotation – but it all depends on what the weather brings.”
Hitting weight targets
The farm is currently on track when it comes to the weight gain performance of the 110 weanlings. A recent weighing completed on February 26 showed the weanlings hitting their targets, with some even exceeding it. He said:
“The average weight for the group was 309kg, which I am delighted with really, because it shows that they haven’t received any setback in performance.”
‘It has been the easiest calf rearing season so far’
On another positive note for Aidan, he has had a successful time in rearing of calves over the past few months.
In total, there have been 91 calves purchased off farms this spring which consisted of Friesian bulls and Hereford bulls and heifers. The ratio would see a 60:40 split, in terms of the percentage of Friesian and Hereford calves purchased.
Speaking about the rearing season this spring, he stated:
“At the minute I am starting to wean some of the calves off milk replacer, with 21 calves going to be weaned this weekend.
It has been the easiest calf rearing season so far, we had no issues at all really. I kept their pneumonia vaccines up-to-date and they have been treated to prevent coccidiosis.
“I had no issues with scour but the main reasoning behind this is that the calves are coming to me in good condition.
“I’d love to get them out to grass as soon as possible but there is no consistency at the minute with the weather and sheltered paddocks are hard to come by on this farm. They will be in the shed for the next three weeks,” Aidan concluded.