3 tips to manage grass in difficult weather
The autumn has been very kind in terms of growth rate and ground conditions. Grass utilisation has been excellent this autumn. Here are a few tips to continue utilising grass, even if the weather turns wet, from Teagasc.
- Use the driest/ most sheltered paddocks when grazing in very wet weather;
- Strip grazing should be used during to ensure minimal damage from poaching and to maximise grass utilisation (12 to 24 hr blocks); and
- On/off grazing can be practised to reduce poaching damage and keep animals at grass for longer when weather gets wet (out by day- in by night... in November as conditions deteriorate).
It also recommends that paddocks being grazed now should be closed off for the winter and should be grazed early next spring.
It says to extend the grazing season by supplementing using concentrates if farm cover is low and to graze down to 4cm to ensure good quality grass next spring.
Graze Down Grass
It is important to graze down to a residual of 4-4.5cm in the autumn to stimulate growth throughout the winter and avoid the carry-over of dead material over the winter into next spring. Dead material doesn’t grow grass!
Difficult, heavy, later, poor infrastructure paddocks should be targeted to be grazed this week if not already grazed, it recommends, and while the weather forecast is good, these paddocks should be grazed in rotation with dry paddocks.
Teagasc recommends farmers to aim to have 60pc of the farm closed by the first week in November (1-2 weeks earlier in wet/ late areas).
It says to feed supplements if there is insufficient grass in the daily allocation and to skip heavier paddocks if necessary – and graze paddocks with ideal covers - to meet the 60pc target if necessary.
The advice also says to plan to leave the grazing platform with adequate grass cover when the cows are housed (farm cover of 600kg DM/ha on December 1).