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What are the benefits of grazed grass?

In Teagasc’s beef advisory newsletter for the month of February, Catherine Egan, beef specialist, writes about the benefits of grazed grass.

She highlights that every blade of grass into an animal’s mouth in the spring is a saving on costly indoor feed and will have live-weight benefits.

“Every day at grass is worth €2.00/livestock unit (LU). For example, if 60 extra days at grass are captured for 50LU, then it is worth €6,000.”

However, she added, to capture days at grass in wet weather you need to have the right cover, the right paddock, the right animal and the right mind!

“Light weanlings are easiest to turn out first to build confidence. Where possible, move stock to drier parts of the farm.”

Lower covers are easier to graze in the wet and as they are green to the base, are faster to recover.

Paddock shape

Ideally, the paddock should be square in shape. An irregular-shaped paddock will lead to ‘the racecourse effect’, where stock will walk up and down the perimeter fence.

She advises farmers that if you know a spell of prolonged wet weather is coming, hold off on turning out more stock until the weather settles.

“Cattle that are used to grazing will be more settled. If cattle are very unsettled, do not be afraid to rehouse.”
“Trial work has shown that cattle that get turned out early and are then rehoused, are still heavier than animals that are turned out late.”

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