AUGUST 2018 www.irishfarmersmonthly.com X X Management Hints Table : Target Grass Covers for Various Stocking Rates in August. Easy, but a corn roller is required during winter. See last month’s notes for more detail. Short of Grass? This will affect autumn build-up of grass. It is vital to act immediately with a plan of action. What’s the solution? More nitrogen is part of the answer. Blanket spread as per Table 2 and a little more (10-20+ per cent) if you under used it during the summer. Table : Nitrogen Recommendations for Various Stocking Rates in August-September S.R. Cows/Ha 2.0 2.5 3.0 3.5 4.0 Rotation Length (Days) 15 Aug 30 Aug 25 25 25 25 25 30 30 30 30 30 Target/LU (Kgs DMHa) 1 Aug 15 Aug 30 Aug 180 180 230 200 200 200 200 250 220 220 300 300 330 310 310 Av. Farm Cover Pre-graze Cover (Kgs DM/Ha) (Kgs DM/ha) 15 Aug 400 500 750 770 880 15 Aug 950 1162 1375 1590 1750 Overall Farm Stocking Rate LU/Ha Ac/L.U. 2.1 or less 1.18 or less 2.2 – 2.4 1.12 – 1.03 2.5 1.00 2.6 + 0.95 N. Rates (units/acre) August September None 14 14 14 26 14 28 20 To maximise benefit from N (make sure Sulphur adequate), the next most important point is to slow down the rotation so that you are at least grazing PGC’s of 1300+, approx 10-13days after rain comes. And then achieve 1600 -1800kg DM PGC, the grazing target, within another 5-7 days. X You have to let grass build up, otherwise, you will be chasing your tail for the remainder of the year. X Rotation then would need to be 25-30 days anyway but large growth rates, expected, would lessen the rotation. This is done by: X Feeding meals (6-7kgs), 5-6kgsDM silage (the highest quality you can manage) and a little grass (in fact some farmers may not be able to feed any grass because they have none, therefore cows may be housed full time for a week or so). X Reduce stocking rate (demand for grass) by selling off stock now rather than in a few months’ time. These may be excess cattle or non-pregnant cows. Graze very tight, down to 4 cms. This will have the effect of: X Slowing down rotation (every ¼ day in each paddock adds up). X It will set up the swards for quality autumn grass and can make it easier to graze them out then. X The effect on milk yield will be minimum if meals are being fed. Table 3 indicates the approximate target grass coves for various stocking rates for August. This Table shows the cover we must aim for in August but if growth rates are higher than normal we must adjust these targets per LU downwards – maybe by 20 per cent. Farmers short of winter feed, and with very high growth rates, should target a stocking rate of 3.5 to 4.0 cows per ha on the grazing area. X The table also shows that farmers can get by on no unnecessary meal expense on low grass covers at low stocking rates. X For example, a farmer with 2 cows/ha (1.23 acres/cow) only needs a cover of 1070 kgs DM/Ha on the next paddock if his overall average is 680 kgs DM/Ha. Some farmers who are short of grass + silage are planning on OAD milking. There will be a few benefits and costs: X Feed requirement will be reduced by approx 2kgsDM/hd/ day, saving 50cents, but milk yield will be reduced by 25 per cent approx 2-4 litres, valued at 70–140 cents. X The big payoff will be in terms of improved BCS; therefore, worth doing with thin cows. Other farmers are drying off cows producing less than 0.8kgs MS/day, that are not in calf or have high SCC or lame. Some are considering fattening these. They will eat up to 14gs DM/hd/day or 15 tons over 90 days. They are not the most efficient at putting on weight, requiring 70mj to put on 1 kg weight gain. You could lease your cows from now to another dairy farmer who is ok on all fronts: X Ok for grass and silage, X Ok with a good milking set-up, good roadways and a careful operator; so that cows don’t get damaged while he has them. X Cows must be tested going and coming off that farm. X The fee could be small or give them free. When the rain comes it will be difficult to get the cows to graze out paddocks because it will be low DM and be ‘sour’. Fibre may be necessary to encourage them; they will have to be “bossed” a bit to make them clean out 41