The Armagh College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) group had its second meeting on the farm of David and Matthew Brownlee near Loughgall in Co Armagh. 

CAFRE aim to assist farmers to adopt grass/clover technology through these monitor groups that are also designed to improve the overall use of grass on the farms and the efficiency of use of the farm wastes.

David and Matthew’s farm consists of 70 ha of lowland that carries 70 suckler cows and a beef finishing enterprise.  They aim to achieve higher livestock performance at grass by paddock grazing and also place a lot of emphasis on cow fertility to reduce the number of unproductive days which individual cows have.

CAFRE’s Senan welcomed the farmers to the farm and explained that the farm walk had been organised to discuss and see how the grazing system on the farm had been managed since the previous meeting in June. He also explained that there would be a special emphasis on reseeding.

During the farm walk it was explained that the Brownlee’s had measured the growth of their grass regularly over the summer months allocating it to grazing livestock groups accordingly. The aim was to graze swards at the correct height to ensure maximum production and output from the livestock. Excess grass which accumulated on paddocks was round baled helping control the swards and added to the fodder stocks for the winter. With growing conditions still good at the time of the visit the Brownlee’s planned to grow more grass and ensure that it would be utilised efficiently through paddock grazing and baling.

Discussion arose around the need to plan ahead for the winter and Senan encouraged the farmers to make use of CAFREs Beef and Sheep producer checklist and discuss options with their local adviser.

Dr Trevor Gilliland, from the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) Plant Testing Station at Crossnacreevy also attended the event and had a very interesting discussion with group members about a recent reseed which the Brownlee’s had completed.

If you would like to get involved in one of the grass/clover monitor groups please contact your local CAFRE Beef and Sheep Development Adviser, who is based in a local DARD Direct office.  Telephone 0300 200 7843 and speak to an adviser.

By Senan White, College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise, Beef and Sheep Development Adviser, Armagh

Pictured: Dr Trevor Gilliland, AFBI Crossnacreevy discussing a grass sward with the group members