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Pushing milk solids per ha from grazed grass at Shinagh Farm

Dairy advisor, John McNamara, and Shinagh dairy manager, Kevin Ahern, join Emma-Louise Coffey on this week’s Dairy Edge podcast to discuss the system of pushing milk solids per hectare from grazed grass and low levels of supplementary feeds.

John explains that since cows started milking on farm in 2012, the focus has been on converting grazed grass to milk solids with a low reliance on purchased feed.

Over the last number of years, milk solids has been 420-440 kg milk solids per cow from less than 500 kg concentrate and milk solids per ha of 1,100 kg.

Kevin suggests small tweaks such as the addition of more clover to grazing swards as well as being more selective with culling poorer yielding cows can lift milk solids per cow. 

John explains that chemical Nitrogen has reduced from the traditional 250 kg to 178 kg in 2021, and a target of 150 kg in 2022.

Kevin quantifies what this looks like practically: all paddocks get 60 kg N by April and subsequently, paddocks with >15% clover will get 8-9 kg Nitrogen and paddocks with >20% clover no further Nitrogen is spread.

Both John and Kevin explain their cautious approach to reducing chemical Nitrogen as grass needs Nitrogen to grow and, unless clover content is sufficient, Nitrogen application is essential.

For more information: Shinagh Farm

For more episodes from the Dairy Edge podcast go to the show page at: www.teagasc.ie/thedairyedge  

The Dairy Edge is a co-production with LastCastMedia.com