Excellent grazing infrastructure will allow more days at grass, provide easier management of grass at times of peak growth and make grazing less weather dependent. In order to achieve 10 grazings/paddock/year grazing infrastructure must be improved on most farms. This involves mapping out the farm, creating a rotational paddock system, ensuring all paddocks have access to water, and creating access to paddocks through roadways. It may also involve drainage works on some soil types to get the most from the land as well as using temporary electric fencing.
The Paddock System
Grass utilised can be increased on farms by either increasing the amount of grass grown and/or improving the utilisation rate. By having the right grazing infrastructure in place will increase grass utilisation which will be influenced further through grazing management of the paddock system.
The start of the grazing season is an excellent time to review grazing infrastructure on your farm. Focus on the positives and negatives from last year on certain fields. Hence a plan can be developed based on farm size, stocking rate and long term goals of the farm.
What benefits are there in setting up a paddock system?
- Improves sward quality hence increasing daily live weight gain
- Gives more control on grazing management
- Allows for taking out surplus grass resulting in top quality silage during the peak grazing season
- Allows for creep grazing with calves/lambs later in season
- Allows for a more targeted fertiliser programme
Click Setting Up a Paddock System for step-by-step advice when deciding on a paddock system.
Set up your farm to grow grass not silage! Having a good farm infrastructure will allow you to graze and utilize more grass on your farm. in this short clip as part of the #Grass10 campaign, John Heslin runs through some tips on setting up a good infrastructure on your farm
Grazing Infrastructure Guides
All the information you need to improve the grazing infrastructure on your farm is in the guides below including; paddock layout, roadways, fencing, electric fencers, water systems and more. Know someone that might benefit from this? Don't be afraid to share it or let them know where to find it!
- Beef Farm Infrastructure Handbook
- Sheep grazing infrastructure guide
- Dairy Farm Infrastructure Handbook
Learn how Liam Hefernan, Leinster winner of the Grass10 Grassland Farmer of the Year Competition, has adapted his Kilkenny farm through infrastructure to meet the demand of his increasing herd size. #Grass10
Investing in Infrastructure
Getting a Return on Investment!
Getting grazing infrastructure right will require on-farm investment so it should be prioritised for areas that will give the best return. Every ton of additional grass eaten by the grazing animal will add €180/ha additional profit to a dairy farm and €105/ha additional profit to a dry stock farm. The table below summarises the potential return on investment for different investments in a dairy farm business. The level of return to these investments is high and will also be high for the investments on drystock farms.
Table 1. Potential return on investments for various investments in the dairy farm business based on initial performance, response and investment costs.
|Investment||Cost||Impact||Annual return (%)|
|Increase soil P & K levels||P & K application of 20 and 50kg/ha||+1.5 t DM/ha/year herbage growth||152|
|Reseed full farm in eight year cycle||€650/ha||+ 1.5t DM/ha/year herbage growth||96|
|Improve grazing infrastructure||€1,000/ha for roads, fencing and water||+ 1.0 t DM/ha/year herbage utilised||58|
Donal Whelton outlines the returns a farmer could expect from investing in soil fertility, reseeding the farm or improving grassland infrastructure