You Can't Manage What You Don't Measure!
Grazed grass is the cheapest animal feed available to Irish farmers, in order to manage it successfully, to underpin profitability, it needs to be measured. Read also Why Measure Grass for even more benefits! There are a number of different methods and tools that can be used:
Band Method for Assessing Average Farm Cover
Bring this handy sheet and take to the field to help you assess the average grass cover on your farm Band Method for Assessing Average Farm Cover (PDF) View video below for more advice
Spring Rotation Planner
The spring rotation planner is a tool that divides the area of your farm into weekly portions and takes the guesswork out of planning the first grazing rotation. The only data you need to use is the date you want to turn out your animals and the date when you think you are growing enough grass to supply all the grass you need. Find out more and download a simple planner here Grazing Guide Spring Rotation Planner (2011) (PDF)
Colour-Coded Guide to Achieve 10 Grazings Per Paddock Per Year
This guide has the rotations colour coded to help and guide you in achieving 10 grazings per paddock per year - download here Colour-Coded Guide to Achieve 10 Grazings Per Paddock Per Year
Wall chart - Grazings per paddock per year
This handy wall chart will help you to record the number of grazings you are getting from your individual paddocks. Wall chart - Grazings per paddock per year (PDF)
Record the kg DM/ha and the paddock no./name then plot this information on the pasture wedge page. The record sheet and pasture wedge page can be downloaded here Summer Wedge (PDF)
Autumn 60:40 Rotation Planner
The most important task any farmer will undertake in the autumn is to ensure that the farm is closed off properly to have an adequate supply of grass early the following spring. The Autumn Rotation Planner is a tool:
- to help keep grass in the diet of grazing animals for as long as possible
- to set up paddocks for grazing the following spring
Download here Autumn Grazing Planner (PDF)
PastureBase Ireland is the grass measuring software used to record your farms grass growing performance and provide real time advice to make grassland management decisions. Using PastureBase weekly during the grass growing season helps ensure quality grass for animals and take out strong paddocks by conserving them as high quality silage bales, this improves farm profitability. Please click onto PastureBase Ireland for more information on Measuring Grass.
Please click onto PastureBase Ireland for more information on Measuring Grass.
Watch Percy Mills, dairy farmer from Kildare, explain why he grass measures and how he uses this information to manage his farm better.
Methods of Measuring Grass
Measuring grass and using PastureBase to record the data is not difficult once you know how. Grass can be measured in KgDM/Ha (Kilograms Dry Matter per Hectare) or in cm (centimetres). Every 1cm has approximately 250kgDm/Ha for cattle farms or 350kgDM/Ha for sheep farms (mixed cattle and sheep farms are around 300kgDM/Ha). We use 4cm residuals when estimating grass covers as that is the height animals should graze to, so if the sward height on a cattle farm is 10cm then 10-4=6cm or 1500kgDm/Ha which should be grazed.
The main points when measuring are to get a good representation of the paddock's grass cover and measure at least once per week during the grass growing season. To help us get a good representation there are specialised tools we can use; the quadrant and shears, the platemeter, the grasshopper and the sward stick. Click How to Measure Grass for more information on how to use them.
Hear how Percy Mills is using Grassland Management and PastureBase Ireland to optimise profitability on his dairy farm.