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Grazing Guide for Dairy, Beef and Sheep Published

Grazing Guide for Dairy, Beef and Sheep Published
Pictured at the launch is Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD, Professor Gerry Boyle & Emer Kennedy Teagasc - Photo O'Gorman Photography

A new publication, Grazing Guide 2, was launched By the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD, today, Wednesday, 20 September, at the National Ploughing Championships in Tullamore, County Offaly.  Grazing Guide 2 is a joint publication between the Irish Farmers Journal and Teagasc.  In this second edition of the Grazing Guide, the focus is on grazing management practices associated with dairy, beef and sheep. 

Within the publication the grazing season is broken into its three main areas spring, summer and autumn and highlights the main tools and management practices during these periods which will ensure the maximum amount of grass is grown and utilised.  Enterprise specific advice is also given in terms of feeding the dairy cow, beef animal and the sheep flock. 

Grazing Guide 2 aims to help farmers ensure that they are exploiting the full potential of grazed grass on their farm, irrespective of production system or land type. Land type is often seen as a barrier to adopting good grassland management practices.

Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle said: “There are still a number of simple steps that farmers operating on heavy land can take to improve grass growth and utilisation. Getting livestock out to grass early and ensuring an adequate supply of good-quality leafy grass is available throughout the grazing season is key to obtaining high levels of animal performance. The guide breaks down the key management steps that should be taken during spring, summer and autumn to ensure this is achieved. In the Grazing+ section of the book, the role of clover, farm infrastructure, reseeding and soil nutrients in improving grass growth and utilisation are also covered in detail.” 

The potential to achieve high levels of productivity from grazed grass gives Irish farmers a major competitive advantage over many of their European and global counterparts. On average, the cost of producing 1kg of liveweight gain, or 1kg of milk solids, from grazed grass is 80% to 85% less, when compared with an intensive concentrate-based system. This will vary depending on the price of grain, but, in the main, over a prolonged time frame, the grazed grass system will outperform and deliver much more efficient production.

Jack Kennedy of the Irish Farmers Journal said: “Getting the basic principles of grassland management right is essential irrespective of enterprise, simple things such as roadways, proper fencing and water troughs all make managing grass easier.”

Michael O’Donovan, Head of Grassland at Teagasc said: “We had a great response to the original Grazing Guide and we see Grazing Guide 2 as another improvement on the original.  This publication is a must have for all farmers who are interested about making maximum use of their grass. Farmers should challenge themselves in 2017, to grow and utilise 1 tonne more DM/ha; Grazing Guide 2 will give them information on how to achieve this challenge.”