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Grass 10 Weekly Update


Get the latest news & updates from the Grass10 team in this week's newsletter including: PastureBase data & Elodie Ruelle’s MoSt Grass Growth Prediction Model; Current Performance on Mike Bermingham's farm; Average Farm Cover; Upcoming Events and an Athenry Sheep Update

PastureBase Update  

AFCStocking RateCover/LUGrowthDemandGrass/Meal/Silage
725 kg DM/ha 3.3 LU/ha 213 kg DM/LU 35 kg DM/ha 45 kg DM/ha 13kg/4kg/1kg 

 

            
Counties map showing current grass growth rates over the last week Counties map showing predicted grass growth over the next 7 days from farms involved in Elodie Ruelle’s MoSt grass growth model (55 farms)

 

Counties map showing current grass growth rates over the last week

 

Counties map showing predicted grass growth over the next 7 days from farms involved in Elodie Ruelle’s MoSt grass growth model (55 farms)

 

On-Off Grazing - the tool of choice as the weather remains challenging

Heavy rain over the weekend has left ground conditions challenging on many farms around the country. With some further rain expected over most of the country this week, On– Off grazing is the tool of choice to maintain grass in the diet. Research has shown cows can get 90% of their daily intake from 2 x 3 hours allocations of grass.

Approach: On/Off Grazing

  • Milk cows at 7am and 2kg of feed
  • Cows out to grass at 9am in the right paddock with a keen appetite
  • Cows return to shed at 12– 1pm
  • Milk cows at 3pm and 2kg of meal Cows out to grass at 4pm
  • Cow return to shed at 7pm
  • Cows have access to silage until early hours of the morning

On-Off Grazing Tips

John Maher from the Grass10 team talks through some of the grazing techniques required to maintain grass in the diet of the cow during difficult grazing periods in February.


Grass Dry Matter %

Moorepark, Co. Cork - 17.6% (900 Kg DM/Ha)
Grange, Co. Meath - 22% (900 Kg DM/Ha)
Athenry, Co. Galway - 19% (1200 Kg DM/Ha
Ballyhaise, Co. Cavan - 17% (1000 Kg DM/ Ha)


 

Michael McGuigan Co. Meath

Multiple access points Sean O Donnell, Ballina Co. Mayo has gate handles on every post so cows can get in and out of paddocks with minimum damage. 


Soil temperatures on the rise, consider the 1,2,3 for Spring N

With milder weather forecast for the week, many farmers will apply fertiliser to in- crease growth rates throughout early Spring. On average the grass growth re- sponse is 10:1, i.e. for every 1 kg N applied there is 10kg DM extra grass grown. At the rate of 23 units per acre (30 Kg per Ha) the average paddock will respond with 300 Kg DM extra grass. For a farm stocked at 2.5 LU/ha this equates to about 10 days extra feed on the farm costing about €1/LU/day and not to mention improved animal performance.

It's no wonder every day at grass in the spring is worth €2.70/LU!

Consider the 1,2,3 of Spring N application-:

  1. Are soil temperatures 5.5ºC and rising on my farm?
  2. Is my land trafficable?
  3. Is the forecast favourable? Avoid yellow rainfall warnings

 Protected Urea use at Johnstown Castle Dairy Farm

With pressure on Irish agriculture to reduce GHG and ammonia emissions, protected urea is a technology which can help achieve target reductions. Protected urea is an urea- based nitrogen fertiliser coated with a ure- ase inhibitor which stabilises urea. It greatly reduces nitrous oxide emissions with 71% less when compared to CAN. It also reduces ammonia emissions by 79% when compared to standard urea. For this reason protected urea should be used to replace standard urea and CAN fertilisers across the growing season. Aidan Lawless, farm manager at Johnstown Castle dairy farm, has been us- ing protected urea since 2016. His experi- ence and the benefits are summarised on the right. The renewed focus in 2021, is to have targeted and effective N usage.

Farm scale protected urea experience at Johnstown Castle Dairy Farm - Aidan Lawless - Farm manager

  • Using since 2016, now main N source
  • 'Spreads in the same way as normal urea' 
  • 'More concentrated than CAN so less refilling time. 2 bags of CAN (1000kg)covers 10ha vs about 13ha for 2 bags of protected urea (750kg).'
  • 'Slightly cheaper product, so we grow the same amount of grass, it costs uslesstp grow & we have lower GHG emissions'

'In terms of meeting emissions reductions it's about the lowest hanging fruit I can think of'


 

Let’s Talk Cattle… And Grazing In The Spring!

Last week’s Let’s Talk Cattle webinar saw John Douglas, Grass10, highlight that every day at grass in the spring earns cattle farmers €2/LU as well as other benefits. He demonstrated how farmers can exploit these benefits by focusing on dairy calf-to-beef farmer Aidan Maguire who last year achieved 297 days at grass. This really helped with farm profitability. The 10 steps Aidan takes are summarised:

  1. Close up the farm properly in the
  2. Use the spring rotation plan to calculate area to
  3. Ensure cattle have an appetite for
  4. Walk the paddock & set up the strip-wire—move each
  5. Plan your route to grazing – shed to
  6. The animal– lighter animals graze
  7. The grass– graze light covers 700-900 kgDM/ha (7-8cm).
  8. Have a flexible approach– cattle can go in and out!
  9. Too wet? Stay inside – but try again
  10. Apply slurry and fertiliser to help grass growth

John pointed out that farmers should focus on improving their own farm year on year as every farmer can benefit from more days at grass. View webinar here

Watch how Aidan gets cattle to grass 

Is getting out to grass worth it?

Average days at grass = 220 days (7 ½ months). Housed from Nov 1st until Mar 15th 
e.g.You have 60 acres & turnout early Feb = 1 mth extra grazing in spring (30 days). Based on area to graze & grass supply = enough grass each day for 30 yearlings to graze (about same stock to eat 1 bale/day) 

30 strong yearlings = 20 LU x €2/day = €40/day x 30 days = €1,200Every week saving the cost of a Ton of meal!! How many cattle needed to sell to make €1,200 profit


 

View Grass10 Webinars back!

Have you missed the Grass10 & Pasture- Base Webinar titled “Getting Familiar with PastureBase Ireland” in early February?

Not to worry as the webinar along with our December and January webinars are all available to view on the Teagasc Grass10 page on the Teagasc website– under the “Webinar” tab. The PowerPoint presentation and FAQs from the webinars are also available to view here!


Need help getting set up on PBI for grass measuring in 2021?

Email support@pbi.ie or call 046-9200965