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Green Acres Calf to Beef - GrowthWatch: Last grazing

James Fitzgerald and Seán Cummins, Programme Advisors to the Green Acres farms offer some timely advice on grassland targets as the grazing season comes to a close. They share the last grazing plans of two of the programmes farmers; Michael Culhane and Ciaran Bartley

The Advice

Keep track of average farm cover if still grazing. At no point over the course of November do we want the average farm cover (AFC) to dip below 500kgDM/ha. Research has shown that 70% of the grass that is available in the springtime is grown in the months of October and November. We need to ensure that we have c.600kgDM/ha of an AFC on 1st December to provide good quality spring grass in sufficient quantities next February and March. If you have been forced to house your stock due to deteriorating ground conditions like much of the country has over the last couple of weeks and still have a high level of grass on farm, be flexible and willing to turn out stock to finish off grazing if ground conditions become more favourable over the coming weeks.

Farmers with a sheep enterprise need to be mindful that the same grassland targets apply and that ensuring that grass is available in the spring is the top priority. Do not regraze what has been closed in the final rotation and do not let the average farm cover dip below 500kgDM/ha. Spring grass is needed far more by all classes of stock, than what it is for dry sheep over the winter months.

Remember that although the grazing season might essentially be over on the majority of cattle farms there are still things that can be done to strengthen your hand for next year. Any dry/cold spell could provide an ideal opportunity to spread lime. Consult your nutrient management plan or recent soil samples and spread anything up to 3 tonnes of lime/acre where needs be.


Farmer Focus: Michael Culhane - Killaloe, Co. Clare

Deteriorating ground conditions have led to the housing of all the heavy stock on the home block. The year and a half old heifers and bullocks are settling in indoors while the spring born calves are still out grazing. The older cattle made good inroads over the last couple of weeks in grazing off the home block and have left only a couple of paddocks that the calves need to get grazed off before they too are housed. I am expecting the calves to be housed in the next 5-7 days which will signal the end of the grazing season here. While the temptation is there to leave the calves out and to graze back over the earlier grazed areas which are beginning to recover, housing instead and sparing this regrowth for the spring is the better course of action.

Farmer Focus: Ciaran Bartley - Boher, Co. Limerick

Grazing conditions have been extremely challenging since September and I’ve been watching and moving stock onto dry areas to graze where possible. After the past two weeks though, the farm is now in a position where grazing has become next to impossible due to unfavourable underfoot conditions and the majority of the stock were housed.

Finishing steers have been housed at this stage and have started on their winter finishing diet which consists of silage (72 DMD) and 5kg of concentrates.

Half of the weanlings have also been housed at this stage and they are receiving just over 1kg/head/day of concentrate along with silage. The remainder of the weanlings, which are being supplemented with 1kg/head/day at grass, will be housed over the coming weeks, once they have the few remaining drier paddocks grazed off.

The table below shows the grassland management statistics from Pasturebase for all of the Green Acres farms

To find out more about the Green Acres Calf to Beef Programme click here https://www.teagasc.ie/animals/beef/demonstration-farms/green-acres-calf-to-beef/