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Maximising grazed grass on the Teagasc/Tirlán Future Farms

Maximising grazed grass on the Teagasc/Tirlán Future Farms

Farmers participating in the Teagasc/Tirlán Future Farm Programme have set their sights on maximising the proportion of grazed grass in the diet of their dairy cows this year.

In a recent update, Sandra Hayes, Co-Ordinator of the Programme, explained that all opening farm covers have been completed over the last two weeks, with winter growth varying from 4kg DM/ha/day to 12kg/ha/day.

“We have completed spring grass budgets for most of the monitor farms and they are all following the Spring Rotation Planner. Those with high opening farm covers will try and get 35-40% grazed in February, if weather conditions allow.

“The high opening covers have allowed a grass budget of just grazed grass and meal, which - if weather allows - will be great for the cows, great for workload reduction for the farmer and a huge saving in silage,” Sandra said.

By completing a spring grass budget, the participating farmers will be able to see weekly progress and to assess whether they are grazing too fast or too slow. These budgets were completed using a combination of the regional growth rates, along with spring grass growth rates over the last two to three years for better accuracy.

On why the participating farmers have re-focused on grass this year, Sandra said: “It is a huge driver of farm profitability. Grazed grass is good for the cow, the farmer and the environment.”

Table 1: Summary of opening farm covers, winter growth rates and pre-grazing yields on Teagasc/Tirlán Future Farms

FarmerCountyOpening farm coverWinter growth ratePre-grazing yieldAverage closing coverClosing pre-grazing yield
Tom Murphy Kilkenny 1,335 10 2,000 711 1,100
Donal Kavanagh Wicklow 1,019 5 2,000 716 1,800
Francis Nolan Kilkenny 1,500 11 3,000 722 2,200
Jack Kearney Cork 903 5 1,850 695 1,700
John Ryan Tipperary 1,048 5 1,700 592 1,300
Kevin Murphy Wexford 1,122 9 2,000 578 1,250
Mullen Farm Meath 848 4 1,300 568 975
Shane Fitzgerald Waterford 921 7 1,500 745 1,300
Shay Ryan Wexford 1,278 12 2,400 615 1,300
Steven Fitzgerald Waterford 835 8 1,700 655 1,300
Tom Fennelly Laois 864 4 1,800 621 1,500
Average   1,061 7 1,932 656 1,430

For more information from the Teagasc/Tirlán Future Farm Programme, click here.

Also read: Assess the quantities of grass on your farm now

Also read: Does the spring rotation planner actually work for all dairy farm soil types?