Newford Demonstration Farm - Grass Update
Michael Fagan, Teagasc Technician for Newford Farm gives an update on the grass situation on the farm. Newford Farm consists of 71 Ha, which is made up of 4 farms and 2 of these are located 12km away from the home farm.
It is vitally important that Iarlaith Collins the farm manager is on top of grassland management on each farm.
Newford Farm consists of 71 Ha, which is made up of 4 farms and 2 of these farms are located 12 km each away from the home farm. So it is vitally important that Iarlaith Collins the farm manager is on top of grassland management on each farm. Here in the west of Ireland we experience a lot more rainfall compared to the rest of the country, and this can lead to difficult grazing conditions at times.
Hence every Monday and more often twice a week at this time of year all paddocks are walked and grass measurement are recorded on PastureBase and from this results grazing decisions are made as too which paddocks are to be taken out due to surpluses or extra fertiliser needs to be applied. Any paddocks over 2000 kg Dm / Ha are taken out as round bales of silage and this high quality DMD silage will be fed back to the weanlings and finishing stock. Iarlaith aims to turn the suckler cows & calves along with the beef animals into grass covers of 1,400 Kg DM / Ha, during this time of the year.
All paddocks are temporary divided with the aid of pig tail posts and reels, to ensure good utilisation of each paddocks down to graze down to 4 cm. By having a paddock system in place allows Iarlaith to utilise grass performance better on all of the 4 farms. Last year Newford grew 14 tonnes of grass dry matter per hectare. All the suckler calves are encouraged to go underneath the electric wire and grazed ahead of the cows if they wish into cleaner pasture. The grass cover on the home farm at the moment is 825 Kgs DM.
Newford Farm was fortunate that the drought which most of the country experienced did not affect us too badly. However Iarlaith had plans in place if it had become an issue. Round feeders were on standby and surplus silage bales which had been taken off paddocks in the last number weeks would have been used. If the grass cover had fallen below 500 kg DM / Ha.
Newford home farm consisting of 26 Ha is currently being grazed by 96 cows and 95 calves with a stocking rate of 4.5 LU / Ha, which puts a lot of pressure for grass at this time of the year. Once the breeding season is over in early July. A portion of cows and calves will be moved to one of the outer farms. After each grazing 25 kg of Protected Urea (38N + 7% S) is spread per acre. Normally our target during the main grazing season is to ‘Grow in 3 weeks and graze in 3 days’.
At the moment 200 round bales of silage have been made including some first cut silage bales. Last year Newford made 650 round silage bales and we would expect the similar this year. These silage bales will be fed to weanlings and finishing stock next winter.