Profit to be made by cutting poaching and keeping your cows out grazing
Last month provided us with around 40pc more sunshine than normal, making it the sunniest October for more than 40 years at several stations according to Met Eireann.
So it is no surprise that there is many a higher grass cover than budgeted or what has been experienced in previous years at the beginning of November.
Obviously this is a positive situation in many ways, particularly the fact that less supplementary feed is required and more cows can be milked on grass for longer. However, there are two issues in terms of pasture management that need to be given serious consideration at this stage in the game:
- Minimising poaching;
- Winter closure of pasture.
The rain has come, for many in substantial amounts, which is making grazing conditions challenging, so obviously the first consideration is to minimise poaching.
As we all know, treading on wet soils, resulting in poaching damage, can affect pasture production and the soil's structural resilience.
It can directly damage or destroy plant growing points, leaves, tillers and roots, and can alter the equilibrium between soil particles, air and water, and therefore impede grass root development and reduce root mass and uptake of nutrients.
On wet farms, a high likelihood of poaching is often one of the main factors determining the cessation of grazing in autumn and the housing of stock. However, minimising poaching and having the confidence and ability to keep the cows grazing has a suggested worth of €2.50/cow/day in additional profit.
When grazing in wet conditions the aim is to reduce the distance that animals have to walk on a growing sward. So having multiple entrances into a paddock, from well-crowned, wide roadways is essential. Day-to-day management will require on-off grazing.