Managing grass to maximise usage essential
Published 19/04/2011 | 05:00
Maximising grass usage is a key plank of Jim Delahunty's farm management.
The aim on the Delahunty farm is to have good grass covers early in the year. With this in mind, the cows are housed in early November -- they were put in on November 8 last year -- and milked on for a month.
This year the plan was to have the first rotation from February 1 to April 8, with the last rotation from October 10 to November 5.
This spring the cows were initially out full-time on February 14 but with grass growth so slow they were housed again by night over the next month before going to grass full-time in the last week of March.
For Jim, the grazing policy is all about getting the cows' feed intake right. This is watched even more closely now since the increase in cow numbers.
After calving, cow intakes can be as low as 12kg dry matter (DM), but this increases to reach an average of 18kg DM while on grass.
Jim's grassland management and usage is exceptional and this has provided the platform for expanding cow numbers.
The farm is walked weekly to assess covers. Paddocks are grazed so tightly that a mower which Jim bought last year to clean the paddocks after the cows never saw service. Where paddocks get strong, excess pasture is taken out as baled silage.