Paddock systems can 'wipe out the cost of renting'

Green Acres walk on John Lalor's farm, Ballyfin, Co Laois
Green Acres walk on John Lalor's farm, Ballyfin, Co Laois

The creation of a paddock system can over a period of three to four years increase farm income by up to 50pc, according to Teagasc advisor Christy Watson.

"Seventeen per cent of the area that cattle farmers work is rented. If they put all their own land into paddocks, they could wipe out the cost of renting overnight," he said.

This is because a paddock system facilitates better grass utilisation. More money is generated because there is greater liveweight gain and that, in turn, is because farmers have better quality grass, he added.

While paddock systems have long been the norm in dairying, they are less common in beef farming. In addition to increasing income and grass utilisation, there are other advantages too. For example, the reduction in travel time between the various blocks of land.

He pointed out that paddocks also offer greater freedom in times of excess grass growth because a paddock can be taken out for silage.

His underlying message is to keep things simple.

Mr Watson also questioned the need to spend money on farm roadways.

"It's not like a dairy farm where stock are travelling in and out every day so they are not really necessary." He pointed out that temporary fencing may suffice.

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Water trough placement is another issue. Ideally, animals should not be walking more than 100m to drink. Placing the trough near the middle of the paddock is ideal. The rule of thumb is that a paddock will grow in three weeks and you graze it in three days, so six to seven paddocks are required per grazing.

Mr Watson advised against having too many groups of stock as this will mean a lot of time is spent moving them around. So instead keep a smaller number of groups, comprised of a larger numbers.

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