Dairy farmers – have you 66% of your farm grazed?

Dairy farmers using a spring rotation planner should have grazed 66% of their farms by March 17, according to Teagasc.

Teagasc research shows that the rotation planner is the most effective way to allocate spring grass to the dairy herd.

The rotation planner allocates an appropriate proportion of the farm each day from when cows are first turned out to grass to early April.

However, Teagasc’s James Comer said that farmers in the west of Ireland may be forced to push their rotation planners back by one week due to difficult grazing conditions this spring.

The Teagasc Dairy Specialist said that dairy farmers in the west of Ireland should aim to have their full farm grazed by April 15.

Comer said that difficult conditions caused by poor weather has delayed turnout on a number of farms.

As a result, farmers should push their rotation planner back by one week to ensure that their cows have adequate grass at the start of the second rotation.

“Achieving this target ensures that there will be enough grass on the farm in April, as the first paddocks grazed have sufficient time to recover.

“The main thing is to try and get cows out to grass. Farmers should target finishing their first rotation by April 15. This is necessary as it is taking grass longer to recover this spring,” he said.

Comer was involved in the preparation of the Aurivo Teagasc Dairy Handbook, which offers farmers advice on making the best use of grass in dairying in the west and north west of Ireland.

According to Teagasc, farmers who use the spring rotation planner will ensure that there is sufficient grass on their farms until the end of the first rotation in April.

However, the plan will vary from farm to farm, depending on when turnout occurs and when grass growth equals demand or ‘magic day’.

Teagasc also says that farmers should avoid skipping ahead of the area plan, as this will result in a short first rotation, not enough grass to get to ‘magic day’ and may also compromise subsequent regrowth rates.

Source: Teagasc. Typical rotation planer for a 40ha farm.
Source: Teagasc. Typical rotation planer for a 40ha farm.

Key dates for the completion of the spring rotation planner: 
  • February 7: Start grazing
  • March 1: 30% grazed
  • March 17: 66% grazed
  • April 7: Begin second round
  • Farmers in the west should aim to start the second rotation of April 15