Farm Ireland

Wednesday 23 January 2019

How to keep leafy grass in front of your herd every day

Key advice on how to keep leafy grass in front of your cows
Key advice on how to keep leafy grass in front of your cows

The challenge for mid-summer grazing management is to keep leafy grass in front of the herd every day.

Teagasc research shows that there are two possible management responses in midseason.

Option A: ease off on N fertiliser, graze cows through heavy grass using strip wires and use a topper to clean the residuals.


Option B: skip heavy covers within the rotation and bale for silage within a few days. Keep moving to paddocks with a suitable grass cover (1,300-1,400kg DM/ha) for milking cows and maintain fertiliser N.

It says that there are a number of negative outcomes for Option A. Grazing cows on heavy covers will lower milk yield and protein content.

Cutting back on fertiliser N means growth is lost at peak potential, and it may also cause grass quality issues at lower covers. Topping each paddock increases workload and cost, and may also reduce growth rate.

The better approach to managing surplus grass is Option B, it says, and taking out heavy paddocks as baled silage will help ensure that cows are eating quality grass each day. It improves quality for the next grazing round, and importantly this year it will help to build silage reserves.

Also Read

There is potential to harvest two to three surplus bales per hectare of grazing ground (1.2 bales per acre) in summer if the farm is correctly stocked.

Walk the farm weekly to identify areas that should be taken out, and cut these for bales within four to six days of planned grazing.

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