Grass advice: Don’t forget a strip wire and back-fence
As it stands, average farm covers are standing in or around 950kg/DM/ha on farms measuring grass through PastureBase Ireland and the attention – if not already done so – should be getting grass into the diet where possible.
The best way to do this is to walk the entire farm and put a plan in place through the form of a spring rotation planner.
According to Teagasc, getting 30% of the platform grazed in February will be difficult with the large quantity of grass available on farms; this will also be dependent on stocking rate and soil type.
Light or early farms, Teagasc says, should target to have 30% of the farm grazed by February 28 and 65% by March 17. These farms should aim to start their second rotation in early April.
According to Teagasc, heavy or very late farms need to aim to have 30% of the farm grazed by mid-March and 65% grazed by April 1; the start of the second rotation should begin mid-April.
- Graze low covers first (600-1,000kg/ha/day) – livestock will graze a larger area/day in lower covers;
- Minimise meal feeding and silage feeding if possible – this will increase livestock’s grass intake;
- Use a strip wire and back-fence, so that grazed areas can recover for the second rotation;
- Turn out yearlings on the grazing platform in early February;
- If conditions are wet, make an effort to let cattle out by day.
As we move towards the middle of February, grass needs to be fed. Spreading urea early in spring (weather permitting) will not only increase grass growth, but will also improve the quality of the sward and help the pasture to recover after the first grazing.
On beef farms, getting lighter stock out to heavier covers – where possible – is advisable. However, be prepared to house again if weather conditions deteriorate. This will be beneficial in terms of live weight gain (LWG) and to help stretch fodder supplies.