Dairy: Cut your costs this spring by switching to on-off grazing
As a nation, we are fascinated by the weather, particularly rainfall.
Personally, I have an interest in measuring how much of it falls every 24 hours and as I was writing this piece, my rain gauge was telling me that 72mm had fallen in the first 10 days of February where I live close to Limerick city.
However, my colleagues in Killarney were able to tell me that down there, 130mm had fallen over the same period.
Every dairy farmer out there knows that it is going to be a tough spring as regards milk price. March is traditionally the lowest milk price month of the year as solids are at their lowest levels, particularly milk protein percentage.
The spring is the most expensive time of the year on dairy farms and every effort needs to be made to keep costs under control.
Ideally, this means getting cows out to grass and replacing expensive silage with cheap grass.
This is easier said than done, but the technology is tried and tested and it works. Increasing the number of days at grass should be an objective for every dairy farmer. This is particularly so in the spring. So, can we take the cows natural grazing cycle and turn it to our own advantage?
When cows are out for 24 hours, they only graze for about nine or 10 hours. The rest of the time they are either loafing around, lying down and chewing the cud or just enjoying the day so cows don't have to be out for 24 hours to be fully fed.