Offaly farm to increase gross margin by 33% through grass

A Co. Offaly mixed farm is planning on increasing its gross margin by €250/ha on the strength of improved grassland management.

Teagasc’s Mark Coine described how Dan Bracken is moving from a mixed spring and autumn calving suckler herd to spring only calving on his 46.7ha farm.

The farm currently has a gross margin of €750/ha but has plans to move to a gross margin of €1,000/ha.

Moving from spring to autumn calving on a grass based system will have a major positive impact on the financial viability of the farm, he said.

The farm is currently running 43 suckler cows, 30 ewes and 25 bucket reared calves at a stocking rate of 1.7LU/ha, Coine said.

The farmer will move to a spring calving only system and will also increase the number of calves bucket reared each year.

“The more sales that the farm generates from grass the more profitable the enterprise will be,” he said.

Coine added that the grazing structure of the Bracken’s farm will also be improved through the introduction of a paddock system.

“Currently the farm comprises of eight individual fields, the farm will move to 18 paddocks within the next couple of years to increase grass utilisation and management.

“The expected total cost of this infrastructure improvement will be in the region of €2,500,” he said.

Coine also said that the use of a paddock system will improve the grass utilisation and in turn farm profit.

“It is essential to get in and graze out, if you leave the cattle in the paddock too long you will only be grazing the regrowth.

“This will have a negative impact on the overall amount of grass grown.”

The Tullamore advisor also added that there is no point in investing in reseeding on farm if you are willing to remain practicing set stock grazing.

He added that the Bracken farm will follow a simple rule to ensure they make the most of grass in the future.

“A simple rule is to graze a paddock for three days, so a herd of 50 cows will require five acres to allow for this grazing.”