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Conditions come right for grazing in Limerick


Ciaran Bartley operates a calf-to-beef system, consisting of mainly Holstein Friesian steers, just outside Boher, Co. Limerick. He discusses early turnout to grass on his farm and utilising protected urea in this video. Find out more about the farm from Seán Cummins, Teagasc GreenAcres Advisor

Each year Ciaran Bartley purchases 160 calves for his calf-to-beef system, consisting of mainly Holstein Friesian steers.

Challenges to early grazing

Approximately 70% of Ciaran’s land base is marginal or heavy, making grazing challenging in the early part of the year.  A wet February had delayed grazing somewhat and, although the plan was to commence grazing in early March, unsuitable ground conditions delayed this until the second week of the month.

With the vast majority of Ciaran’s ground being heavy in nature, there is always the chance that grazing will be delayed. To counteract this and to ensure that quality silage can be produced, Ciaran aims to finish his grazing year on the silage ground annually.

With a mid-May harvest targeted, this action late in the 2021 grazing season will ensure that silage quality is not affected and a similar quality feedstuff can be produced when compared to a farm targeting an early spring grazing of silage ground and a later cutting date into May.

Fertiliser application

Silage ground was fertilised last week on the farm, while grazing paddocks will receive artificial fertiliser once grazed, with a nitrogen allowance of 100units/ac and 30units/ac, respectively, targeted.

Previously Ciaran used to carry a group of steers to grass for a third season. However, with rising fertiliser prices, favourable beef prices and animals of sufficient weight, the decision was made to feed these animals earlier in the year to help take the pressure off the grazing platform this spring. These animals were marketed in mid-March.

A key aim of Ciaran’s is to achieve a daily weight gain of 1kg/head for grazing animals between now and the back end of the year. To achieve this, a firm focus will be placed on ensuring pre-grazing covers are maintained at the correct levels of ~1,400kg DM/ha during the grazing season. If this target is achieved, Ciaran’s steers should weigh over 500kg on November 1. 

Find out what Ciaran Bartley has to say in the video below 

Find out more from Teagasc on Dairy Calf to Beef here.