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Ger McSweeney July/August Update

Watching farm cover and strong paddocks

Watching farm cover and strong paddocks

  • Target farm cover of 700-800 kg DM/ha
  • Continue to take out strong paddocks for silage
  • Check on the number of grazings and yields for each paddock on your farm
Update your fodder budget

Update your fodder budget

  • Fill in harvested silage quantities on your fodder budget
  • Revise stock numbers for the winter if necessary
  • Plan for making extra silage if you are short
Weigh finishing cattle to monitor performance

Weigh finishing cattle to monitor performance

  • Ensure adequate feeding space at troughs for finishing cattle that are fed meal at grass
  • Cattle should be fed meal at grass now to ensure that they are slaughtered before housing
  • Weigh regularly to monitor weight gains


Grass was measured on the 11th July. There was an average farm cover of 744 kg DM/ha, a growth rate of 36 kg DM/ha, demand of 36 kg DM/ha and 21 days of grass ahead. These are meeting the grass management targets for this tie of the year. Ger has 4 paddocks taken out for silage to meet these targets which will be baled in the coming week.

Looking through Ger’s wedge, he has grown an average of just under 6t DM/ha year to date. This ranges from just under 4t DM/ha to over 8t DM/ha between his poorer and best performing paddocks. The number of grazings on the poorer paddocks so far this year has only been 3, whereas the top paddocks were grazed up to 5 times this year. In order to achieve 10 grazings per paddock per year, paddocks should be on their 6th to 7th rotation/grazing in July. At a pre grazing cover of 1400 kg DM/ha that would deliver a paddock yield of 8.4 to 9.8 t DM/ha, which Ger’s top paddocks are nearly achieving. By focusing on soil fertility (soil pH, P and K indexes), weed control, reseeding and clover incorporation, it is possible for more paddocks on Ger’s farm to achieve these targets over time.

As Ger has been measuring grass for a number of years, he can trace back the typical grass growth pattern on his farm. Typically his grass growth drops back during mid to late July, which is challenging as his stock demand is increasing and he is trying to keep the cows’ energy levels up to ensure they stay in calf. He also noticed that the grass was starting to go a little yellow in colour and decided to spread 22.4 units of nitrogen per acre in the form of urea to help it along. (€1000/t).

Animal Nutrition

Based on the revised PBI fodder budget with 40 cows and a 6 month winter, Ger will need 510 bales of silage this winter. He currently has 565 bales and will be taking out more surplus paddocks for silage which will give him more than enough for the winter.

As Ger will not have the shed space or feed reserves for any cull cows or finishing heifers over winter, he plans to finish them off grass. There are currently 8 cull cows (with calves at foot) and 8 finishing heifers being fed 1.5kg of 14% CP ration at grass to ensure that they will be slaughtered on time. Some of the cows are well fleshed already and are expected to be sold in the next 4-6 weeks.


The cows and calves will be weighed for BEEP before the end of the month.

The 2021 finishing heifers (9) were weighed on 11th August and averaged 561kg, having gained 0.7kg/day since 14th February. Two breeding heifers that have not held in calf were added to the finishing bunch to make 8 cows and 10 heifers. They were eating 1.5kg of 14% CP ration which has now been increased to 3kg. Ger was a little unhappy with the fat cover that they are laying down but they were in one paddock a bit longer than they should have which may not have helped. Some of the cows with calves at foot have been separated too which will leave more feeding space at the troughs.

Stock GroupNo. of CattleWeighing DateAverage Weight (kg)ADG Since Last Weighing
2021 finishing heifers 9 11/08/2022 561kg

0.7 kg/day

(Since 14/02/22)