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Climate Actions for September


Time for Lime

Lime is the one fertiliser that hasn’t risen much in price this year. Given the cost of fertiliser now, and the likely costs for the year ahead, it is of the utmost importance that any fertiliser applied is working efficiently next year. Applying lime this autumn gives you a better return on your investment. Refer to your most recent set of soil tests and apply as soon as possible.  If you do apply lime, make sure to reduce your chemical N use by the corresponding increase in N availability in the soil

For further details on liming click here. 

 Apply P & K at sowing time to low fertility tillage fields

A sufficient soil supply of P and K is essential for winter cereals especially on very low to low (Index 1 & 2) fertility soils.  Phosphorus has a key role in root and tiller development and is the basis to building yield potential in such crops as winter barley.  Incorporate / combine drill 10 to 20kg P/ha on index 1 and 2 soils at sowing time, all applications must be completed by the 31st October.  Apply 125kg to 250kg/ha of 0-10-20 type product.  Well rooted crops will take up N over the winter period and build yield potential through good crop develop.

Dealing with Autumn grazing targets

Above average sunshine and no rainfall over the last week has pushed soil moisture deficits to between 50 & 80 mm in parts of the East and South of the country. In this weeks featured farmer, Colin Doherty's growth rates are back to 22 kg DM/Ha and considerable supplement has been introduced. Rain is forecast for this weekend and will hopefully improve the situation for farms that are struggling.

  • Continue with low daily grass demand. Maintain/extend rotation length at 30 + days. 1Ha per day of a 30 Ha grazing platform. This will facilitate the last 2 grazing rotations, i.e. September and closing up of the farm during October. For those with severe drought the "6/6/6" of 6kg DM grass, 6kg DM silage, 6kg meal is an option for dairy farms.
  • Try and hold grass cover on the farm (>500 Kg Dm/Ha), continue with sufficient supplement. For Beef farms, the options to reduce demand are: house finishing cattle, feed meal outside, feed silage outside, other feeds/forages, sellsome animals.
  • Grass DM is higher during drought periods (>20% DM) and grass supply tends to be underestimated.
  • Post grazing residuals of 4 to 4.5cm should be maintained, don’t waste feed.
  • No N fertiliser should spread until rain has been received which is due at the weekend.
  • All farmers should do a fodder check on what fodder they have in store, especially those in the eastern half of the country

Review your AFC with Autumn Targets for your farm

Objective Remains: To “build” grass for the autumn period even though some farms may not get near to reaching targets due to drought.

Farms in the West and BMW region are still growing well and therefore should be aiming to hit Autumn targets below.

Keep walking your farm weekly to monitor AFC against the targets. Rotation length should be 30 days for farms stocked at 3.0+ LU/ha. This is not rotation length between grazing events, it is rotation length based on area per day. E.g. 30ha grazing block should be grazing 1 ha per day

1st Sept targets for different levels of stocking rate-:

2.5 LU/ha - 750 kg DM/ha AFC

3.0 LU/ha - 990 kg DM/ha AFC

3.5 LU/ha - 980 kg DM/ha AFC


Cover / Cow

(Kg DM)

Average Farm Cover

(Kg DM Ha)

Rotation Length
1st August 180 450 20 Days
Mid - August 200 500 25 Days
1st September 300 750 30 Days
Mid-September 400 - 450 1,000 - 1,100 35 Days
1st October 400 1,000 40 Days
1st November 60% of your grazing platform should be closed for Spring at this stage
Fully Housed   550 - 600  
Mid - August  250 750 25 Days
1st September 330 990 30 Days
Mid - September 370 1100 35 Days
1st October 380 1150 40 Days
1st November 60% of your grazing platform should be closed for Spring at this stage
Fully Housed   600 - 650  
Mid - August 220 770 25 Days
1st September 280 980 30 Days
Mid - September 340 1200 35 Days
1st October 335 1175 40 Days
1st November 70% of your grazing platform should be closed for Spring at this stage
Fully Housed   700 - 750  


Introduce Creep Feed

Introduce creep feed to weanlings to minimise weaning stress and maintain good live weight gain.

With spring-calving herds weaning calves in the coming weeks, now is the time to plan your weaning strategy and vaccination programme. Weaning can be a stressful time on farms for both the cow and the calf. There are many different weaning strategies. The key points to keep in mind at weaning are to reduce animal stress and minimise the impact on animal performance. Weaning can be a multi-factorial stressor, in which nutritional, physical, and psychological stresses are combined. Calves are at one of the most-efficient stages of their lives prior to weaning. With grass being tight on many farms, creep feeding needs to be considered. 

Research at Teagasc Grange has shown that single-suckled beef calves supplemented with concentrates prior to weaning were less immune-compromised, started consuming meal faster when housed indoors, and spent more time lying down (rather than standing and walking) post-weaning compared with non-supplemented calves.

At pasture: Introduce concentrates one month prior to weaning sucklers and gradually increase the allowance with the intention of having the calf consuming one kg/day at weaning time. Continue to feed the concentrates for at least two weeks after weaning.

If feeding supplementary concentrate to replacement heifers, energy is the most deficient nutrient in the Autumn.  Feed a high energy low protein concentrate feed. 

Research at Teagasc Moorepark shows that replacement heifers respond to autumn supplementation at grass. Supplementing heifers with 1.5kg concentrates from late August until early November increased daily growth rates by 0.2kg/day. When supplementing, a high-energy rather than a high-protein feed will deliver the best response rates.

Vaccination Programme 

Consider your vaccination programme to reduce potential pneumonia outbreaks well in advance of housing. Calves should be treated for stomach worms and hoose during the grazing season and for Ostertagia Type II worms at housing using effective anthelmintics administered according to product recommendations. Calves with pre-damaged lungs from lungworm infestation also have a higher risk of developing pneumonia.

With spring calving suckler herds, weaning calves in September-October, now is the time to plan your vaccination programme. Catherine Egan, Teagasc Beef Specialist, highlights that the number one cause of mortality in weanlings in 2020 was pneumonia and she has advice to prevent it on your farm here.

Test Your Silage

Taking a representative silage sample

  • Poor sampling technique is one of the main causes of unreliable silage analysis results.
  • Wait 5-6 weeks after ensiling to take the samples.
  • Ideally use a long core sampler to sample 3-5 points from well spaced points on or between diagonals on the pit surface as per diagram. Core to within 0.5m of the pit floor.  Alternatively sample an open pit by taking 9 grab samples in a ‘W’ pattern across the pit face.
  • Where high performance diets are being fed (e.g. finishing cattle, fresh milking cows) it is advisable to repeat sample at 4- week intervals if using this method
  • Discard the top 100mm of each core before mixing into a composite sample.The final sample should weigh approximately 500g.
  • Exclude air, seal well and post immediately. Avoid posting samples late in the week.

A standard silage sample from 500-tonne pit represents about 0.0001% of fresh material available– ensure that a standard procedure is followed to generate representative samples