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Grass10: Watch grazing targets as growth rates increase

Grass10: Watch grazing targets as growth rates increase

As growth rates increase, the Teagasc Grass10 team advise to keep an eye on the grazing targets which have been established to work for all farms to keep a balance between grass supply and grass quality. The targets outlined below work very well when monitored weekly and acted on.

The average farm cover (AFC) should be between 600-700kg DM/ha across all enterprises. The current PastureBase Ireland (PBI) average is 788kg DM/ha.

In terms of cover/LU, 180-200kg DM/LU is targeted on dry farms and 200kg DM/ha is the aim on heavy soils. Days ahead on drystock farms should be around 14 days ahead. It is also important to match demand to grass growth. To do this, records of historic growth rates for your farm should be checked on PBI. Doing this will help you make decisions on stocking rate, reseeding, silage, etc.

Grazing targets

  • Ensure paddocks are grazed to 4cm;
  • Grazing conditions over the past 6 weeks have been challenging;
  • To keep grass in the diet and avoid poaching, residuals on paddocks grazed during this period have suffered;
  • There is only 2-3 weeks before stem appears in swards. Ensure animals are grazing to 4cm for excellent grass quality;
  • Paddocks carrying a heavy residual should be grazed at 1100-1200kg DM/ha to help reach 4cm this rotation.

Planning grazing decisions

As growth rate starts to increase with higher soil and air temperatures, it can be a difficult time to make grazing decisions on farm. One week of good growth can transform a farm and surplus grass can appear very fast. Use the projected planner on PBI, by entering in the predicted growth rates you expect for your farm for a length of time. This app will predict what AFC will look like in seven days. If a surplus is appearing, a paddock may be cut for silage.

Complete your spring reseeding and oversowing now

Spring is the ideal time to complete reseeding due to the ability to take 6+ grazings off it to help it tiller and also good conditions to apply post-emergence spray. It is also now the perfect time to oversow white clover into paddocks on your farm.

This article first appeared as part of the Grass10 Campaign newsletter. For more information on the campaign and to register for future newsletters, click here.