While many parts of the country have received rainfall over the past number of days, others have received very little or none at all and as a result grass growth has started to slow.

Based in Co. Carlow, the ABP Demo Farm has been lucky enough to receive some rainfall over the past week, however grass growth rates on the farm are still below the level that would be expected at this time of year.

With little rain forecasted to fall in the coming few weeks, the farm has been proactive in planning to manage grass and fodder supplies.

All 2021-born heifers on the farm have now been housed for finishing. Bullocks started receiving 2kg concentrates/head/day on Friday (August 28).

All 2021-born bullocks on the farm will be housed for finishing in the next 14 days. This is two weeks earlier than normal.

The aim of housing bullocks two-weeks earlier is to reduce the grass demand on the farm which will help ensure that there are adequate grass supplies for the over 400 2022-born cattle and store lambs that will remain at grass.

Grazed paddocks slow to recover:

The first of the 2021-born heifers will be finished in the next two weeks. The average weight of the 2021-born heifers, before they began the finishing phase, was just under 480kg and the steers were just over 500kg.

Paddocks that were grazed on the farm 22-days ago now have covers of 400kg/dry matter (DM)/ha and some paddocks on drier parts of the farm had more grass on them last week than this week as the dry weather took a toll.

The 2022-born cattle will remain at grass and are still getting both straw and concentrates. They are grazing lighter covers than normal but are still performing well.

When all the 2021-born cattle have been housed for finishing, it will reduce the grass demand on the ABP Demo Farm.

Fourth-cut red-clover silage is ready to be taken on the farm and it is hoped that a final cut of red clover silage will be taken next month. A fodder plan has been drawn up for this winter and for finishing the existing batch of store cattle on the farm. This will be reviewed and adjustments will be made made accordingly as the grass growth situation develops.

ABP Food Group’s Agri-sustainability manager, Stephen Connolly said: “The demo farm has gotten more rain than some parts of the country and also has an extra reserve of fodder from last winter.

“We are keeping a close eye on our water supply also to ensure all drinkers are filling with fresh, clean drinking water for cattle.

“What we are advising beef farmers to do is to analyse the level of grass remaining and the stock they have.

“If farmers are concerned about grass supplies and have heavier-type fleshed cattle on-farm, a good idea could be to push these cattle on and finish them, even if it is a little earlier than usual,” he said.

“Farmers should contact their procurement officer if they need assistance in selecting cattle to push on and finish earlier to help reduce their grass demand”.

“The best advice is to pick out cattle that can be finished and move them on. Farmers need to plan now and make adjustments as they go forward. Taking stock of their winter fodder requirements is essential and farmers should avoid eating into this at all costs,” he concluded.