Grass advice: Time to start planning for the future

The month of August came around quick enough and with that, it is time for farmers to start thinking about building covers of grass on their farm.

Building grass is important for two reasons: To prolong the grazing season; and to ensure sufficient grass is available come turn-out next spring.

Farmers who don’t plan and fail to build sufficient covers of grass – to allow them to keep cows out – won’t achieve the Teagasc figure of approximately €1.70/cow/day in extra profit for fevery extra day grazing in the back end; a very valuable reason to plan ahead.

Building grass on the farm usually starts around the middle of August.

The figures below are the Teagasc target average cover/cow, at a stocking rate of three cows/ha:
  • August 15 – 250kg DM/ha;
  • September 1 – 330kg DM/ha;
  • September 15 – 370kg DM/ha;
  • October 1 – 380kg DM/ha;
  • November 1 – 65% of your grazing platform should be closed at this stage.

These figures can vary depending on your farm’s stocking rate.

Options to consider to build up grass

A rotation length target of approximately 25 days should be maintained in the month of August, increasing this to between 30 and 35 days from about mid-September onwards.

Reduce the demand on the farm. This can be done through selling off empty cows, cows which are performing poorly or removing any young stock from the platform.

If ground is closed off temporarily for second or third-cut silage, it will need to be reintroduced to the rotation quickly; so as all the land on the grazing platform is available for grazing.

Apply nitrogen (N) – while staying within your limits – along with continuing to reach target residuals of between 3.5cm and 4cm.

Introduce meal which is the most expensive option but usually necessary at a high-stocking rate. Alternatively, high-stocked farms can introduce high-quality bales if surplus is available.

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