Farm Ireland

Friday 23 March 2018

A road map to more efficient grazing

Kieran Henry taking grass measurements
Kieran Henry taking grass measurements

Rotational paddocks to help boost grass and profits on cattle farms will be one of the key topics for discussion at Beef 2016 in Grange next month.

With uncertainties facing the beef sector, the Teagasc event will focus on key technologies, genetics, pasture tips and herd health to dry and drive profits.

Teagasc advisor Ned Heffernan says PastureBase Ireland has identified that the creation of one new paddock on a farm will give five extra grazings on the farm for the year.

"Control is the key word with paddocks - it allows farmers to assess the supply and demand for grass and improve quality.

"They will grow more grass and the cattle will be moving off of the paddocks more swiftly," said Mr Heffernan. "It leads to better quality grass, stronger daily weight gains and less reliance on feed costs.

"The six paddock system is the minimum number of divisions that is recommended based on a grazing area and it allows a long regrowth."

He said the beef sector was playing catch-up when it comes to utilising grass but paddocks were vital for farms.


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"If you listen to the guys on the Better Farm programme they found them very useful for access and for grazing," he said.

"An extra paddock will give you more grazing days and reduce your cost."

Farmers will also be able to examine the correct layout of water troughs to get the best access at least cost for the farm.

He pointed out that roadways aren't a mainstay on many beef farms.

Mr Heffernan said there was a quality four metre roadway installed at Grange that was used to get machinery out to paddocks for taking out for silage.

He said it involved removing top soil, laying a membrane, filling it and coating it.

However, he said a narrower cheaper version could be installed to give access and allow cattle move easily between paddocks.

Mr Heffernan stressed the cost does vary from farm to farm however, a linear metre of fencing depending on materials used costs €1.50-1.80.

The construction costs for roadways can vary from €15-€30 per metre depending on the cost of material, width and depth of materials and the cost of construction.

He said a narrow track could be laid for as little as €6-€8 a metre.

He points out the width will also dictate cost as a cow track is roughly 2-2.5m, while a roadway for vehicles would be 3.5m wide. Samples of various types of roadways have been created on the Teagasc farm for the BEEF 2016 event.

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