Autumn Grassland Management
The Autumn Rotation Planner will help you to extend the grazing on your farm. By following the 60:40 planner you will ensure to have grass ready for Spring grazing in 2018. In this short clip as part of the #Grass10 campaign John Kelly runs through the planner with us.
Targets for the end of September
- 2.5 cows/ha – 1000kg DM/ha
- 2.7 cows/ha – 1100kg DM/ha
- 3.0 cows/ha – 1200kg DM/ha
Carrying more than 3.0 cows/ha, it is not advisable to allow the peak farm cover to build higher than 1200kg DM/ha. Otherwise cows will be grazing covers in excess of 2000kg/ha which will have a negative effect on graze out of paddocks with a lot of dead material remaining in the sward
Aim: To build rotation length to 35 days by mid –September
- Be flexible – an autumn budget is a target for grass supply relative to growth and demand.
- Demand is in your control, however growth is mostly dependant on the weather conditions.
- If farm cover is below target at any stage, take quick action to bring it back on course, for example introduce a higher level of concentrate or remove surplus stock.
- During August/September and early October period it is important to measure grass supply weekly so that you know how much grass you have and how much you need to have.
- Once you know this, informed decisions can be made.
- Closing farm cover of 550-600kg DM/ha with covers ranging from 900kg DM/ha - first paddock closed to 200kg DM/ha - last paddock closed.
- It is important to graze down to a residual of 4 – 4.5 cm in the autumn to stimulate growth throughout the winter and avoid the carryover of dead material over the Winter and into the following Spring.
- The use of strip wires can become essential to allocate milking cows the correct amount of grass and also minimising damage to paddocks in unfavourable ground conditions.
- Start closing paddocks from the 10th October onwards (1-2 weeks earlier in wet areas).
- Aim to have 60% farm closed by the end of the first week of November (1-2 weeks earlier in wet areas). The paddocks grazed by this date will have an opportunity to grow grass before growth rates decline in November.
- Leave the grazing platform with an “adequate grass cover” when the cows are housed (farm cover of 550-600kg DM/ha).
- Do not re-graze fields that have been closed as Spring grass availability will be reduced. 1 kg DM of Spring grass is worth in the region of €0.16/kg DM while in the Summer 1 kg DM of grass is worth €0.04/kg DM.
- Feed supplements if there is insufficient grass in the daily allocation.
- Skip heavier paddocks if necessary – and graze paddocks with ideal covers - to meet 60% target if necessary.
- Use wet weather grazing techniques if ground conditions deteriorate (on-off grazing, strip wires).
- During the last rotation, you must focus on grazing residuals if you want to have top quality swards for your milking herd next spring.