Grassland management: Slurry deadline fast approaching

Farmers that have slurry left to spread are running out of time to get their tanks emptied, as the deadline for spreading edges closer.

Next Thursday (October 15) is the closing date for the spreading of slurry, while the closing date to spread farmyard manure (FYM) is the end of this month (October 30).

The weather has been mixed over the last while, so it’s important to take advantage of any good, dry spells over the coming week to get slurry tanks emptied.

Spread sooner rather than later to maximise nutrient uptake and to reduce the risk of run-off and loss of nutrients. If you are a derogation farmer, slurry must be applied using a low-emission slurry spreading (LESS) method.

Grass growth

As to be expected, growth rates continue to decline as we edge closer to the winter housing period. In terms of average grass growth rates, PastureBase Ireland figures are showing 31kg DM/ha in Ulster, 38kg DM/ha in Leinster, 36kg DM/ha in Connacht and 36kg DM/ha in Munster.

The aim for farmers should be to keep grazed grass in the cows’ diets for as long as possible. According to Teagasc, every day grazing in the autumn period has the financial benefit of €1.80/cow.

However, the unsettled weather is going to make this tricky, as well as achieving good cleanouts.

If ground conditions are getting very tricky, a couple of tips to help you keep your cows out on grass during wet weather are listed (below).

These include: 

  • Graze in 12-hour blocks using a strip wire and a back fence;
  • Use spur roadways;
  • Graze drier paddocks or paddocks with lower covers first;
  • Use on-off grazing – allow cows out for a few hours in the morning and in the evening;
  • Use good-grazing infrastructure to your advantage to avoid damage.