VIDEO: How this farmer maintained his farm cover during a drought


Barry O’Sullivan farms with his parents in Ardcath, Co. Meath, milking 120 cows on a 36-hectare milking platform.

The O’Sullivans have been impacted by the recent dry weather, which led to Barry making a number of decisions to manage grass and cow performance.

In early May, grass growth on the farm reduced to 55kg Dm/Ha/day and, as a result of the continuing dry weather, the growth rate eventually dropped to 37kg DM/Ha/day.

Decisions

Explaining how he dealt with this problem, Barry said: “I didn’t want to increase meal, so I brought a field that was earmarked for silage back into the grazing system.”

“This then pushed out my rotation to 25 days, so I managed to hold my farm cover at 500kg DM/ha. My demand dropped to 53kg DM/ha/day from 68. There was about 2,500kg DM/ha on the silage ground, which I strip grazed in 12-hour allocations.”

Once he had the silage ground grazed, growth had dropped to 37kg DM/ha/day, so a decision was made to introduce silage to the diet.

He supplemented the diet with 5kg of silage per cow/day along with 4kg of meal and 10kg of grass. This dropped demand down to 36kg DM/ha, meaning that demand had matched growth.

He used strip wires to make sure cows graze the paddocks down whilst on silage and not allow them to become lazy and waste grass.

“Because of the decisions to date, I have kept the grass cover, kept grass in the diet and the performance of the cow hasn’t dropped.”

Video source: Teagasc \ YouTube

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