Grass growth this week averaged 35kg/day. The weather forecast for the weekend is for more unsettled weather with lower temperatures and rain expected in most areas.
Predicted growth rates suggest growth will fall to the low to mid-20s across the country for the next week.
As the end of October draws near so too does the end of the grazing season. By next Monday 1 November, 60% to 70% of the farm should be grazed and closed for the winter. By getting this area closed you will ensure grass is available for next spring
Hitting the target
High covers of grass and heavy rainfall are two common reasons this year for being behind target. For farms that are behind target, grazing lighter covers for the remainder of this week will help to get more ground grazed and closed.
Grazing these lighter covers during the wet weather forecast for the weekend will also help to achieve target graze-out. Grazing heavy covers in wet weather can result in poor utilisation.
On farms that are ahead of target it is important to reassess the plan with a view to increasing the level of meal or silage being fed to slow cows or cattle down.
On dairy farms, housing younger cattle that are grazing the milking platform will increase grass availability and extend the days at grass.
Parts of the country, particularly in the west and the south, have had high levels of rainfall over the last number of weeks.
As rain is forecast to become more widespread, good grazing management will be very important to avoid damaging ground. The key is to minimise the number of times cows or cattle travel over grazed ground. The best ways to avoid this are multiple access points, spur roadways and strip grazing while also back fencing.
Fergal Coughlan – Clonakilty Ag College
On the grass and clover swards getting 150kg N/ha growth is 35kg DM/ha/day and demand in 30kg DM/ha/day. The cows are getting 3kg of meal in the parlour and 3kg DM of silage per day. From this week onwards the cows will be kept in on silage when ground conditions are not suitable for grazing. To date this autumn silage has only been fed for two milkings as ground conditions are very good. I want to graze the paddocks tight and also keep grass for November so I pick my days when grazing. There is 76 percent of the farm grazed to date which is ahead of target. The target closing cover for 1 December is 700kg DM/ha. Empty cows will be sold soon to reduce demand.
Damien McEntee – Monaghan
Ground conditions are still very good for the time of the year which has been a huge help. Our focus now is to make sure there will be enough grass available for next spring. From a management and labour point of view we do not feed silage while still at grass in the autumn. At the minute cows are grazing covers of 1,400kg DM/ha. The cows have about one week of grass ahead of them before being housed. Any paddocks with a cover above 1,000kg DM/ha will be grazed before housing. In the past the AFC has been around 450kg DM/ha at housing in early November. On average we grow around 300kg DM/ha in November which will have the farm at the target closing cover of 750-800kg DM/ha around 1 December.
David Fogarty – Wellington Bridge, Co Wexford
The settled weather over the last number of weeks has made grazing management very easy. We only started using the strip wire again last weekend as graze outs had been very good up to then. There has been no silage fed yet this autumn. We are on target to have 65% of the farm grazed and closed by next Monday 1 November. The highest pre grazing covers at the minute are 2,300kg DM/ha but this will drop back under 2,000kg DM/ha in the coming days. The plan is to stay at grass until the third week of November weather permitting. We will start to sell the empty cows next week in order to reduce demand for November
Trevor Boland – Dromard, Co Sligo
Cows and calves were housed in the last week after ground conditions deteriorated a lot. When you are working off farm during the day it’s a lot easier to have cattle in for morning and evening jobs. Breeding heifers are still out and will get another few weeks on the outfarm if weather settles down. We are in the middle of breeding our autumn-calving cows. It’s going pretty good with about 60% submitted after 10 days’ breeding. Cows are on our best quality silage and are not getting any meal. The key is not to allow them lose any condition during these few weeks. We are inseminating once a day with good conception rates. A bull is out with our maiden heifers this year for the first time so hopefully he has a lot of them in-calf already.
Shaun Diver – Tullamore Farm, Co Offaly
Ground conditions are deteriorating rapidly here. We housed the bull weanlings as they were getting very unsettled at grass and doing some damage. They are on our best quality baled silage and 3kg/day of our weanling ration.
We are making sure that they feed twice a day. The first few weeks after housing can often be challenging. Our heifers have about three weeks left at grass. We pulled the feeding away from them as they were hanging about the troughs during the day and not really cleaning out the grass. Cows are still outdoors but will come in by the weekend. We have eight cull cows indoors on 7kg/head/day for a short sharp finish. The rams went out last week and there has been a lot of activity.
Matthew Murphy – Newford Farm, Co Galway
Grazing conditions have become a little difficult and we will likely house more cattle at the weekend. We drafted nine bullocks and 18 heifers for slaughter in the last two weeks. We have the remainder of all our finishing bullocks housed at this stage.
They are on good quality baled silage and will be built up to 6kg of concentrates/head/day over the next couple of weeks. Finishing heifers are still out getting 5kg/meal/head/day but if current weather continues we will house these at the weekend.
Cows and weanlings are still out working their way through some heavy covers. All weaning was completed a few weeks ago. Heifer weanlings have done 1.1kg/day since weaning. They are on 2kg of meal at grass.