4 key tips for farmers to get the most from grass this summer
Any farmer looking to get the most out of their grass, when putting cattle out, needs to take these four tips from Teagasc on board.
1. 4LU/Ha Stocking Rate on Grazing Platform:
The average grass growth recorded over the last four years on PBI informs us that a growth rate of 60-65kgDM/ha will occur over the next four months.
A farm growing 65kgDM/ha should establish a stocking rate of 4LU/ha on the grazing platform (16kg/grass allocation per LU).
If farms are too lowly stocked, paddocks can be closed off for 1st cut silage or farmers can cut surplus grass as baled silage. It is important to maximise grass output/ha to build fodder reserves in our empty yards.
2. Pre-grazing Yield and Residuals:
A pre-grazing yield of 1,400-1,500kgDM/ha (9.5-10cm) should be the grass covers ahead of our livestock.
Animals should graze down to 4cm to maximise grass utilisation and encourage re-growths. Any heavy covers should not be grazed and should be cut as surplus bales.
It is important to graze down to 4cm to ensure a green leafy sward for the next grazing.
Farmers should be spreading a minimum of 1 unit N/day to maximise grass growth on the farm in the mid-season.
Soils deficient in P and K need compound fertiliser such as 18-6-12 and any fertiliser being spread should include sulphur to achieve about an extra tonne of grass in the mid-season. Slurry is also a resource available to farmers and should be spread where silage is taken off, especially after 1st cut.
Many farms have full or almost full tanks at the minute. We need to spread this slurry where silage is taken off in the mid-season to replace the off-take in nutrients from silage cuts (especially K) and to avoid having full tanks going into autumn.
4. Rotation Length:
Farmers should be operating at a rotation length of 16-21 days during the mid-season (20 days X Growth Rate (65kg) = 1300kgDM/ha). We should monitor growth on our farms to reduce rotation lengths during periods of high growths.
During periods of very high growth (80-100kgDM/ha), a rotation length of 16 days can be established to avoid entering heavy covers.
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