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Sunday 4 December 2016

Grassland priorities for the spring

Published 02/03/2016 | 02:30

The spring rotation planner is a very useful tool to take the guess work out of grazing management and ensures that your first rotation ends on the target date. The target date is known as 'magic day' where growth should equal demand and this is generally around the April 10 in the south and April 20 in the northern part of the country. The spring rotation planner is based on grazing a set area of the farm each week until the entire farm has been grazed.

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On a dry farm the plan would be to have a first rotation of 50-60 days grazing, starting around mid-February and ending around April 10. In heavier/later farms, a 50 day rotation starting slightly later and ending seven to 10 days later should be aimed for.

By having a long first rotation it allows the first paddocks grazed to have an adequate rest time so that enough regrowth will have grown before the second rotation begins.

As a general rule of thumb, on beef farms, 20pc of the farm should be grazed before the March 1, 45pc by the March 17 and the remaining 35pc by the April 10.

The following are important guidelines:

Graze one third of the grazing ground first

Graze all the silage ground next

Grazing the remaining two-thirds of the grazing ground: Stock numbers at grass will have increased by now and hopefully the weather improved making it easier to graze out higher covers.

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Stick to the target area per week

Graze the paddocks out as tight as possible.

If the grazing is too slow and you not meeting the target, turn out more stock and graze lighter covers

If grazing is too fast and going ahead of target areas, delay the turn-out of more stock\and re-house stock. You can also feed silage at grass or in yard and only graze by day.

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