In this article, CAFRE’s Richard Gibson outlines how farmers can maximise output from grazing this spring.
Grass is the most valuable asset on your farm. With concentrate feed costs still a significant portion of overall costs, boosting yields from forage can help the overall bottom line.
Maximising the quantity of grass grown on-farm and utilising this grass by the herd must be your priority over the next few months.
Maximise output from grazing
Here are some key points that you, as a farmer, should consider:
- Firstly, prepare for turnout by checking water troughs, fixing any water leaks and fences and gathering up temporary reels/posts.
- Start walking and assessing grass covers on your grazing platform weekly. This allows you to identify the most suitable areas to graze on your farm. If you measure grass, you should have an opening grass cover and planned first rotation.
- Budget grass allocation to cows and aim to complete the first grazing rotation in early April. The first grazing rotation sets up the grazing block for high-quality grass in the second round.
- Select cows for turnout based on cow fertility status and current milk produced.
- Routine maintenance of laneways and paddock entrances should be completed at this stage. However, it is never too late to improve grazing infrastructure.
Turning cattle and sheep out to pasture
Last week, we featured an article from CAFRE’s Nigel Gould, who looked at turning out cattle and ewes post-lambing.
While turnout may seem a while away on some farms, it will be closer on drier land where good grass covers have built up since closing last autumn.
Target younger, lighter stock towards earlier turnout. These are generally classed as higher priority stock on-farm and will cause less poaching.
Where ground conditions allow, turnout suckler cows and their calves next.
Turning spring calving cows out to grass in advance of the breeding season should boost fertility later on, as well as increase milk yield.
Turning out in the morning allows the animals to become acclimatised to the lower nighttime temperatures.
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