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Aim To Build Up Grass Reserve in August

31 July 2017
Type Media Article

By Anthony O'Connor, Teagasc Adviser, Galway/Clare Regional Unit

After the "Mother" of all great grass growing summers, the backend beckons!

Grassland:

  • Grass Supply - Prioritise the best quality grass to the most productive stock on the farm (lambs/calves/beef cattle). Graze down paddocks/fields to 4cm height.
  • Topping - If not already done, top pastures that have stemmy stubble after grazing. This will improve sward quality and control weeds such as spear thistle, rushes etc.  Set topper blades at 5cms height. Drive in a low gear at high revs.
  • Nitrogen - Apply 1 bag of CAN (+ 5% Sulphur) per acre to bare paddocks.  Sulphur slows down the ageing of grass plants. This will boost grass growth and build up a reserve of grass for the autumn. The aim should be to have 25-30 days grazing built up ahead of stock by early September. 
  • Silage - If projected shortage, take up some fields in early August, where there is a good grass cover already, cut as baled silage in early September.  
  • Reseeding - Aim to have any reseeding completed by late August. Follow any soil recommendations carefully, tilling lime into seedbed etc. Avoid cutting silage in reseeded ground for 18 months after reseeding. 
  • Reseeding Technique - Use a method of seedbed cultivation best suited to your farm.  Sow 14kg of a DAFM approved seed mixture/acre in a fine, firm seedbed with good seed to soil contact.  This seeding rate may need to be increased as time progresses.
  • Seed Mixtures for Reseeding - pick a seed mixture to suit your needs.  For beef farms, the recommendation is that there should be two varieties of late heading perennial ryegrass seed and two varieties of medium to large leaved white clover in the seed mixture.

Beef:

  • Herd Check - Assess your suckler herd now.    Identify the best cows to breed future replacements from, looking at the progeny ratings on Herd Plus and Eurostar Replace Index.  
  • Replacements - Avoid buying in problems and disease by breeding your own replacements. Look at replacement weanling heifers in your herd. Along with your own knowledge of the herd, pay particular attention to records such as Herd Plus and Eurostar Replacement Index. Look at mothering ability, milk productivity, and temperament and herd longevity.  
  • Weight Gain - Keep stock thriving by rotating stock between paddocks/fields.  Ensure cattle meet target live weight gain of 1kg/head/day.
  • Selling - Sell beef cattle as they become fit.  Make sure they are fit, not fat. Aim to sell beef cattle before they reach 30 months, at fat class 3 to 4. Thinning them out reduces stocking rate and reduces demand for grass for those that are left which is important as we move to build up grass from mid-August onwards.
  • Meal Feeding - Forward beef cattle that are less than 40kg short of slaughter weight will benefit from feeding 2-4kg of a high energy low protein (12-14% CP) ration/head per day for 6-8 weeks before slaughter. Concentrate feeding will increase carcase weight and kill out. Consider selling any under finished cattle at marts instead. Farmers finishing cattle need to be in touch with their factory agents to check prices, age limits, fat scores and weight restrictions. .
  • Parasites/Hoose - Spring born calves need to be treated for stomach worms, lungworms and other parasites. Only dose when calves start coughing. Consider taking a dung sample and getting it analysed. Follow recommendation of your vet based on sample results. When it comes to dosing products we want to avoid building up any potential resistance so it is advisable to vary the product type used when dosing, but remember the Benzimidazoles(white drenches) and Levamisoles (yellow drenches) will only kill what is there on the day of dosing and do not offer the persistency of the ivermectins.
  • Creep Grazing - This could be considered on after grass etc. Creep grazing provides fresh clean pasture for grazing calves/weanlings, while helping to break cow/calf link. Forward calves can be fed at least 1kg per head/day of a 15-16% Crude Protein ration in open troughs in a fenced off corner of a field where they can all feed and be viewed at the same time. Introduce ration slowly. Feed ration for 6 weeks pre weaning and for 2 weeks post weaning.