Have you completed your spring rotation planner?

Now’s the time to set your farm up for the grazing season ahead with a spring rotation planner (SRP).

The SRP is a simple and easy-to-use tool to ensure that you have sufficient grass until the end of the first rotation.

Due to the relatively good grazing conditions and exceptionally high opening farm covers; many farmers have already begun grazing, with anecdotal reports of areas of up to 30% grazed to date.

If ground conditions allow, it is important that cows are let out to grass as early as possible post-calving.

Benefits of early turn-out:

  • Stimulated grass growth;
  • Reconditioned swards for the year ahead;
  • Reduced feed costs;
  • Increased milk output.

The SRP allocates a proportion of your farm each day – from your chosen turn-out date – to the start of your second rotation (usually 100 days later).

The grazing targets are: 30% by the end of February; 60% by March 17; and 100% by early April.

The plan can vary between farms depending on when the turn-out date occurs. Although, it is typically February 1-5 for drier farms and 10 days later for wet/heavy farms.

Data source: Teagasc

It is important to stick to the spring rotation planner and not graze more or less of the recommended daily area per day. Grazing more than the daily area could result in running out of grass before ‘magic day’ or even affect future growth rates going into the second round.

A strip wire is very useful this time of year as it allows you to allocate the recommended area in 12-hour blocks and helps in reaching the target residual of 3.5-4cm.

We live in hope that the weather will remain stable over the coming months. However, Irish weather can be very unpredictable. This has prompted farmers to develop some useful management practices.

Good management strategies in poor weather conditions include:

  • On/off grazing;
  • Use of spur roadways;
  • Use of a back fence to avoid damage;
  • Grazing drier paddocks or paddocks with multiple access points first.

In any case, ensure every effort is made to stick to your spring rotation planner and continue to get grass into the cows’ diets – as much as possible.

It’s not too late to complete a SRP for your farm. Simply follow the table above or visit PastureBase Ireland’s or AgriNet’s website.

Whether you have already begun grazing or are thinking of letting the cows out, the SRP is a very useful guide to keeping you on track this spring.