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How to manage winter fodder crops on your farm

On this week’s episode of the Beef Edge podcast, Catherine Egan is joined by suckler farmer Michael Flynn from county Waterford to discuss his beef farm system and to find out how he is managing winter fodder crops on his farm at this time of year.

Where stock are to be grazed over the winter months, many farmers will be beginning to transition stock on to fodder crops over the coming days and managing this transition needs to be carefully considered.  

There is often a fear among farmers as to when to start grazing in case of N poisoning or that they will run out of the fodder crop too early in the spring.  Michael explains that he plans to graze it for 2 months from now to the end of January 2021. Through his experience of grazing cows, weanlings and replacement heifers, Michael gives key management tips such as double wires and a good electric fence.

The total forage crop proportion of the diet should not exceed two-thirds of the diet on a dry matter basis. A source of long fibre is required to make up the remainder of the diet of which Michael provides through bales of silage strategically located in the crop.

There is also a risk of toxicity in the spring when the crop flowers, so ideally farmers should aim to have the crop grazed by the end of January. Michael explains how one year he increased the stocking rate to try to graze the crop faster before flowering.

If there is freezing weather conditions in the coming months Michael has a plan B in which he will feed silage instead of the fodder crop

For more episodes and information covered on the Beef Edge, visit the show page at: www.teagasc.ie/thebeefedge