How to manage autumn grassland
The 60:40 planner is an effective tool for grassland management in the autumn
Published 30/09/2015 | 02:30
The annual grassland management calendar starts in the autumn. The closing date of paddocks and how they are grazed out in the months of October and November has a direct effect on the amount of grass available on the farm in February and March.
The 60:40 autumn rotation planner is a tool used during the last grazing rotation. The plan must be to close up a set amount of the farm each week until the whole grazing area is closed and animals housed.
As grass growth rates from the first of November to the first of March are very low or close enough to zero, any grass to be grazed in February and early March will have to be grown this October.
The first paddocks/field to be closed should be those that will be grazed first in the spring. These fields are generally the driest, most sheltered and closest to the yard.
The planner (see opposite) is based on a 60:40 rule of thumb, where 60pc of the total farm area would be closed by November 8 to 10 or one to two weeks earlier on wetter farms.
A consistent amount should be closed each week up to November 10. When calculating your target areas, include all lands to be grazed in the spring, including silage ground that will be grazed before closing for silage.
If you start closing ground on the week of October 5, you have five weeks, to achieve your 60pc target, therefore 12pc of ground should be closed each week. The remaining 40pc should be closed from November 10 to housing.
The idea is that when all paddocks are closed by early December that there would be a range of grass covers on the farm from grazed out (4cm) to 8cm. This gives an average farm cover of around 6cm which equates to 500 to 600kgs of dry matter per hectare. This will be the grass that will be available next spring before the growth starts.
Grazing out too quickly If you are ahead of the target areas to be grazed, extra stock may need to be housed earlier than was planned or if ground conditions allowed you could start some supplementary feeding at grass. Heavier cattle should be housed first if conditions deteriorate.
Grazing out too slowly
If you are grazing too little of the area to make the targets, then the rotation needs to be speeded up, this can be done by grazing some of the lighter covers first in order to get the required area grazed off. It is essential to stick to the areas to be grazed off each week, if you don't the area won`t have enough time to grow.
Gordon Peppard is the programme advisor for Teagasc Green Acres email: Gordon.Peppard@teagasc.ie
Herd management: castration
Many bulls will be castrated in the coming weeks to be finished as steers in the future. The following are some important research findings on castration
Castration will cause a level of weight loss in cattle after procedure is carried out.
Level of weight loss increases with increase of age of castration.
Weight loss occurs no matter what method is used.
The younger the animal at castration the less stress that is caused to the animal.
There is no advantage in delaying castration in terms of carcase weight at slaughter at 22 months of age.
Methods of castration
Ensure testicles are below the jaws of the burdizzo. The burdizzo works by crushing the spermatic cord carrying blood to the testicles. Each spermatic cord is crushed twice, for 10 seconds each. Second crush below the first.
Small rubber rings may be used on calves. Older animals may be castrated with the application of a specially designed elastic band applied with the aid of an applicator around the neck of the scrotum. It is very important to give a clostridial vaccine one month before this procedure is carried out and a follow up booster at castration as there is a risk of tetanus infection.
This needs to be carried out by a vet who may also advise an antibiotic and/or Clostridial vaccine to minimise infection risk.
Animals six months and older must receive a local anaesthetic at the time of castration.
If using the rubber band to castrate calves, a local anaesthetic must be given if the calf is more than one week old.
The younger the animal is at the time of castration the easier it is on the animal and on the person carrying out the procedure.