Grassland: Growth potential
Improving pasture quality and extending the grazing season can generate big returns
Only a fraction of our grassland is reseeded annually, despite recommendations to target 5-8pc of a farm for new ley every year.
With less than 20pc of Irish farmers measuring grass on a regular basis, under-performing pastures are able to stay under the radar.
But an increasing amount of research from Teagasc highlights just how much lower output paddocks are costing both beef and dairy farmers.
Putting a value of 26-30c/kg on concentrates, a kilogram of grass drymatter is approximately four times less, at just 7.8c/kg, while silage is still half the cost at 15-18c/kg.
Put another way, if a farmer can replace 1kg of concentrates with 1kg of grass over the course of a 210 day grazing season, the savings come to €42 per cow.
Better again is getting grass swards that extend the grazing season, with every extra day at grass worth €1.54 per suckler cow.
In the case of the dairy cow, the savings are even greater, at closer to €2.10 per day in the autumn, and €2.70 daily in the spring (due to the higher feed demand for spring calving cows in the case of the latter).
Suddenly, it becomes obvious that there are massive potential savings to be harvested from getting really productive pastures in place. Getting the 100 cow dairy herd out to grass a week earlier in the spring and a week longer in the autumn is worth a massive €3,360.