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Grass 10 Featured Farmer Conor O'Shea, Co. Kilkenny

Grass 10 Featured Farmer Conor O'Shea, Co. Kilkenny

There is 61% of the farm grazed and cows will be out by day until 20th November. My aim is to have AFC 700-750 KgDM/ha on 1st December. I also am trying some multispecies swards to see how they can improve my farming system. Read about Conor's autumn grazing management and nutrient management


Location: Piltown, Co. Kilkenny
Enterprise:  Dairy
2021 Milk Yield: 560 KgMS/cow
2021 Meal Fed/Cow:
800 Kg meal
2021 Annual tonnage:  14 T DM/ha (9.8 grazings per paddock)

Autumn Grazing Management

We got nearly70mm of rain in one day at the end of October. They are just about out on the driest of ground. Cows have been housed at night since last Friday October 28th. We got a lot of rain in the last two weeks of October. Ground conditions are challenging but the soils are free draining and can dry out quick.

Looking back at the autumn, I was lucky I got some rain one weekend in August so my farm cover built from 300 KgDM/ha to 775 KgDM/ha at peak. My farm grows well in the shoulders and over the winter. Growth in September/October averaged 57 KgDM/ha and my demand over the same period averaged 43 KgDM/ha. So the farm cover has held in the 700s with grass and meal mostly. I make paddocks last 2 days and feed a bale or two on the last grazing if it is tight. I was on 40-day rotation for October.

There is 61% closed and the remaining 40% will be grazed by day up until 20th Nov, when the farm cover is 600 Kg DM/ha so I have 700-750Kg DM/ha for the closing farm cover on 1st December.  I have a big demand for grass in the spring with a stocking rate of 3.0 cows/ha, calving the last few days of January and 90% calved in 6 weeks. I aim to have a farm cover over 1000 KgDM/ha in February.

Multispecies Swards

I have two paddocks with multispecies swards. One was sown in 2021 and the other was sown this year, making up 10% of the grazing block. I found there wasn’t enough grass in the multispecies mix so I mixed in some extra grass with this year’s reseed, and I over-sowed 2kg grass per acre into the 2021 reseed back in the spring. I just broadcast it with a bag of 0-7-30. This paddock only received 35u N/ac (chemical) has grown 12.6 T DM/ha this year.

The reseed from this year got 2 bags of 10-10-20 at sowing in May and has got 33u N/ac (chemical) since and watery slurry. It has grown 10.5 T DM/ha. I am happy with the multispecies so far but feel the extra grass seed is helping. I am farming on ex-tillage ground and feel the multispecies is good for adding more organic matter and breaking down hard pans created by heavy machinery. There were a few headaches with it, but I like having something different and a new challenge.

Multi species sward is main picture above 

Diet: 8 KgDM Grass + 4 Kg Meal + 6 KgDM Silage
Pre-Grazing Yield:
1,700 KgDM/ha
Average Farm Cover (AFC): 799 KgDM/ha
Cover/cow: 296 KgDM/Cow
Growth: 37 KgDM/ha/day
 22 KgDM/ha/day

Nutrient Management

This year the farm has grown 13.5 T DM/ha to date on the grazing block with 208 Kg N/ha (166u N/ac) of chemical Nitrogen applied. On average paddocks have been grazed 9.4 times across the year. I’m happy with this performance and feel I can go further.

I have a lot of next year’s fertiliser bought already. My goal for next year is to apply 170 Kg N/ha across the farm and maintain grass growth levels where they are. I plan to achieve this through reseeding and applying fertiliser at the best times on the right paddocks.