Managing your autumn grazing now will save your wallet in 2017 and help dairy farmer maximise milk production into the new year.
Germinal Ireland’s Technical Manager Dr Mary McEvoy said: “Pastures destined for the first grazing of the spring should be the first ones put to bed this autumn,” he said. “These should be grazed down to around 4cm, which is equivalent to a cover of 1,500kgDM/ha.
Warm weather has boosted grass growth this autumn and despite wet conditions its important to make sure that the final grazing is tight. All grass should be grazed down to 4cm. If given sufficient time grass growth shuld reach an optimim turnout of around 2,800kgDM/ha by mid-February.
McEvoy adds that; “The same rationale applies to fields grazed later into the autumn, with these coming into the spring rotation later. All should be grazed down to 4cm, with the exception of the final fields to be grazed (in November/ December), which should be left with 7-10cm growth (around 2,000kgDM/ha) to ensure sufficient cover for turnout.”
As always weather in Ireland is unpredicitable and ground conditions and growth can vary, farmers must be flexibile in order for the desired outcomes to be achieved.
“If the weather closes in sooner than ideal, then it may be necessary to shorten the grazing days – buffer feeding with silage – and using tactics like back-fencing to -minimise sward damage. Alternatively, if the available grazing is incompatible with the feeding requirements of the milking cows, use youngstock or sheep (if available) to achieve the optimum covers before shutting up.
Early turnout can benefit all dairy farmers but the key is forward planning and and disclipine.