leave too much grass it will result in poor pastures next
year because of lack of tillering).
You must have at least 70 per cent of the grazing block
grazed by the 1st November (dry land); otherwise you
will be short of grass next February.
The following target covers (kgs DM/ha) are suggested
for different stocking rates.
550 - 600
600 - 650
700 - 750
Table 1: Target Covers per cow and Total farm cover (AFC)
If you don't hit these covers in early October, then you
will have to house earlier than 20th November and the
allocated area will not have near enough grass daily. The
following suggestions should be considered
Sell off cull cows now a financial waste feeding meals
with cull cows eating grass. Cull cows are unlikely to be
any more valuable in December than now.
Destock by drying off thin cows and heifers during the
month and moving away from milking platform.
Donal Patton's, Ballyhaise plan is:
Peak cover at 1100kgDm/ha (380/cow) on 1st
Closing cover on 10-15th November is 650; this
is achieved by carrying over a few 1500kg cover
With compact calving and stocked at 2.5 cows/ha,
they need 750-900kg DM in spring to minimise meal
They start closing on 1st Oct and must have 70 per
cent of farm grazed by 1st November.
Some paddocks they carry over will be grazed on 25th
September, depending on October growth so as to
meet the AFC target of 650kg.
Wet farms should not peak above 900kgs (maybe
1000 if operator is good with good access), while dry
farms could go as high a 1250 kgs.
If you are now doing 24 hour grazing's you should
let cows into the tall grass after the evenings milking
because it will be higher in sugars.
Use the Last Rotation Planner!
This planner is available through PastureBase and most
farmers are now using it to manage their grass for the
cows every autumn.
This planner will make things extremely simple and easy
to keep cows out until late Nov while at the same time
ensuring adequate grass is carried over to spring.
It outlines the number of hectares you allocate to your
cows each day from 6th Oct to 25th Nov.
It works on the following principles:
At least 70 per cent of the grazing area must be
grazed by 1st Nov.
This is essential so as to have a long rest period for
those fields to grow grass before winter, because over
90 per cent of the grass available for cows next Feb
will have grown this Oct/Nov.
If the area allocated doesn't give him enough grass,
indicated by post-grazing height, then cows must be
supplemented with meals or, preferably, very good
quality baled silage.
If there is a lot of grass in the area, post-grazing, you
either measured the area incorrectly or you have not
enough cows for the farm or you are feeding to much
silage and/or meals.
By measuring grass weekly and recording on PastureBase
the computer will `map' the area eaten against the plan.
It will be very easy see if you are `on track'.
If for any reason, a wet week for instance, you cannot
graze then you will go `off target' and you must graze
double the amount the next week so as to finish the last
rotation on the planned date.
Avoid causing soil compaction
Soil compaction results in the soil not being able to
grow as much grass as it can or should. And in the "new
environment" they are not good "carbon sinks".
Soil structure is made up of soil, air and moisture.
By poaching you squeeze out the air, so it cannot grow
grass and they will also be wetter on the surface.
With the facts you should decide on grazing options:
In October, as soils are retaining more moisture, it is
vital to graze carefully.
Do not graze damaged fields in the wet, as it will
compound the structural damage.
Some fields may have to be "rested" until March or
Practice on-off grazing, i.e. three hours grazing after