Grazing conditions in recent months on Newford Farm have been the best since the project began in 2015.
While the farm has on a couple of occasions enjoyed similarly strong grass growth in autumn, this has typically been blighted by heavy rainfall and unsuitable ground conditions.
The favourable weather conditions has provided an extra month’s grazing for suckler cows. This has delivered big time on three fronts. Cows have recovered body condition and it should eliminate the usual need for a percentage of cows to receive concentrates in mid-pregnancy to correct body condition score. It has also greatly reduced the volume of silage used at this stage of the year.
If spring turnout dates are normal, then there will be a greater reserve of silage held over and this should reduce the pressure on nitrogen fertiliser rates for silage.
It is also reducing costs, with slurry tanks not filling and weanlings not being required to be housed on straw bedding until finishing bullocks are drafted for slaughter.
Recent weighing and analysis carried out by Michael Fagan of Teagasc shows weanling heifers gaining in the region of 1kg liveweight per day. Heifers are being-block grazed, with paddocks temporarily divided with electric wire. This is improving grass utilisation and improving sward recovery. Weanling heifers are grazing on the Newford land blocks while weanling bullocks are grazing on Tuohy’s outfarm.
Weather permitting, there is enough grass on the Newford block to keep weanling heifers outdoors until early December, while bullocks will be housed in the coming weeks. Concentrate supplementation is being offered daily at 2kg per head. Troughs are situated on farm roadways or in the yard, with animals becoming accustomed to running into and out of the yard for feeding. This is also aiding management.
Remaining 2020 progeny are being finished indoors on good-quality silage, which tested at 72% dry matter digestibility and concentrate supplementation. The batch of 18 heifers are receiving 5kg concentrates daily. They were weighed on 20 October and are averaging 553kg liveweight. The majority of heifers should be drafted for slaughter in the coming days.
The 29 bullocks were also housed on 20 October at an average liveweight of 583kg. Three bullocks were receiving concentrate supplementation, with the batch of nine bullocks drafted for slaughter in mid-October. These bullocks are weighing around the 700kg liveweight mark and will be drafted imminently.
The remaining bullocks are being offered 6kg concentrates and the target is to draft these for slaughter before year end.