'There is no such thing as the perfect pasture'

Majella McCafferty
Majella McCafferty
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

In the perfect world, a paddock system would have uniform square areas, or at least 2:1 rectangle areas.

"There's no such thing as the perfect paddock, though," said Majella McCafferty from Lakeland Dairies' member relations team.

"You have to take into account roadways, hill, slopes, that sort of thing. You must make the paddock system suit your farm type."

Majella (pictured) was addressing farmers at a Lakeland Agri grassland farm walk in Clones, Co Monaghan where speakers from Germinal, Goldcrop and TP Whelehan spoke about how to solve fertility issues through correct nutrient and grass seed applications.

Host farmer Alan Mackeral has 88pc of his farm optimal for pH levels.

"There must be multiple entrances into the paddock," Majella said. "Cows will waste energy by walking to one gap at the bottom of the paddock - make sure they can enter and exit at various points. You want their energy going into milk production, not walking."

With summers showing trends of being hotter, Majella said it is critical that drinker locations and waterflow are suitable to the size of the farm and the number of cows.

"It's not ideal to have one drinker in one corner of the paddock, you want to have a few drinkers," she said. "Ten per cent of the herd must be able to drink at one time to avoid stress.

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"Instead of one big drinker, think about using two gallons per cows, so you want a 90 gallon drinker for every 45 cows. A cow can consume 14 litres of water per minute - three gallons.

"Roadways are the key to grazing. A 600m roadway at €20/m is €12,000 which might seem like a lot of money. But every spring day at grass is worth €2.70/cow. And every tonne of grass utilised is worth €185 so if you have 100 cows getting 45 days of extended grazing will pay for the roadway very quickly.

"Roadways will also mean less vet bills by cutting down on walking, less fodder being fed because you can target paddocks, less slurry, and ultimately less workload on you, the farmer."

'There is no such thing as the perfect pasture'

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