Our Organisation Search
Quick Links
Toggle: Topics

Growth Watch: Finishing stock begin to move indoors

With grass growth rates hovering around the 30kg DM/ha/day mark on farms participating in the Teagasc Green Acres Programme, heavier stock are beginning to move indoors for a finishing period. Séan Cummins Teagasc GreenAcres Advisor, reports from programme farmers Peter O’Hanrahan and Aidan Maguire

Some farms in the programme have witnessed growth rates drop by more than 50% over the past week, while those operating on heavier-type land have noticed that levels of utilisation have been poorer than desired.

The Advice

By moving heavier stock indoors now, it presents the opportunity to extend the grazing season for lighter animals on farm, with these being used to close ground on the basis of the autumn rotation planner.

On farms where grazing conditions have become challenging on account of rainfall over recent weeks, lighter stock have been moved to drier parts of the farm and it is hoped that these will be able to return to some the heavier paddocks to achieve a clean graze out before housing.

Key grazing targets:

  • Meet the target areas to be closed under the autumn rotation planner.
  • Aim for a grazing residual of 4cm to ensure grass quality is maximised next spring.
  • Skip paddocks of a heavier soil-type where a poor level of grass utilisation is going to be achieved and aim to graze before housing, when conditions allow.

greenacresPeter O’Hanrahan, Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny

  • Growth: 23kg DM/ha/day
  • Demand: 44kg DM/ha/day
  • Average farm cover: 888kg DM/ha/day
  • Stocking rate: 2LU/ha

Growth rates have slowed somewhat here with just 23kg DM/ha/day recorded last week.

Over the next week or two, the 2020-born steers will move back into the yard for weighing and will begin their finishing period on silage and concentrates. These animals are grazing a parcel of land across the road currently and I want to have it fully grazed out and closed before housing.

By doing this, the weanlings can stay at grass until early-December; an early turnout can also be achieved as I’ll have a sufficient area of ground rested over the winter period.

In terms of the autumn rotation planner, I’m aiming to close approximately 12ha a week up until the end of October, when the target will be to have 60% of the farm closed at this point.

Thankfully the farm here is dry and I’ve been able to achieve excellent levels of graze outs on any of the paddocks that have been closed to date.

Aidan Maguire, Navan, Co. Meath

  • Growth: 24kg DM/ha/day
  • Demand: 28kg DM/ha/day
  • Stocking rate: 1.9LU/ha
  • Average farm cover: 718kg DM/ha

With farm cover tightening here over the last number of weeks, I made the decision to house 56 of the store steers last week. These animals were born in the spring of 2020 and had an average housing weight of 495kg.

This combined with the drafting of cattle at grass this and next week, will help to extend the grazing season for the weanlings on the farm.

There are currently three groups of animals being finished at grass – early-maturing heifers, spring 2020-born steers and a group of autumn-born steers and I hope to move three loads of these off farm over the next week or two.

There are a number of steers in both these groups that may require a short period of feeding indoors, but that will largely depend on how fast or slow I move through the autumn rotation planner over the next week or two, the availability of grass and ground conditions. As it stands, I have 22% of the farm closed for next spring.

The Teagasc GreenAcres Programme Advisors have regular contributions here on Teagasc Daily. You might also like to keep up to date by signing up to their e-newsletter. Find out more about the Teagasc GreenAcres Calf to Beef Programme here.