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SEPTEMBER 2018
Management Hints
www.irishfarmersmonthly.com
88
Maximise grass growth and use
Recovering from the drought has meant that grass growth in
most cases has been very good, but we must get the very most
out of it this autumn. Note the extension of last Nitrogen
spreading date to 30th September 2018 (an allowance to use
more in August early September would be a better option
because of feed shortages).
Urea should be the product of choice, using up to 30-35 units in
September. Allowing for the extension date, best responses will
be got by applying the N during the fi rst half of the month.
Your last day for spreading slurry is 30th October.
It would be a good idea to wait until 20-30th October to spread
any leftover slurry because the nitrogen in it will make a
contribution to grass growth/protection in November a kind
of anti-freeze eff ect.
Use the umbilical system to avoid soil compaction.
Graze higher covers, 1800-2000 pre-grazing (PGC), to
maximise growth and reduce the unpalatable eff ect of N and
low dry matter.
Take out bales at every opportunity, particularly if going into
very high PGC, resulting in high post grazing residuals (grass
being wasted!).
This principle and asking cows to graze out paddocks to 3.5 -
4.5cms is not a big ask.
Every extra day's grazing achieved this autumn will increase
profi t by 2.80/cow/day, even with only three hours of grass in
the cows' diet each day. Therefore, you must keep grazed grass
in the cows' diet as long as possible and September is key to
achieving that by achieving highest AFC in mid-September.
Good grassland planning now will minimise costs and increase
the benefi ts, including profi t, later in October/November.
Do a grass budget now. Now is the best time to do it. Agrinet/
PastureBase have a very simple, easy to do one on their website.
Get help if you unsure of what to do. But there are certain things
you must know `why' and `how to do' and this is one of them.
Learn now. I know I tell you every year to do a grass budget so
why haven't you done it yet? You think it is... a paper exercise;
too much bother; no benefi t to you. With margins now so tight
and winter feed very scarce and expensive, you cannot fool
yourself any longer. A grass budget will allow you to:
Decide on the number of cows to carry this autumn, when to
start drying off so as to have as much grass in the diet for the
cows while milking.
Ration grass by day so that you can stay out longer with grass
in the diet.
Plan the type and quantity of meal (or silage) to feed to cows
this autumn.
Plan the housing date but aim to stay out by day until 20-25th
November on dry land and 5-10th November on wettish farms.
Plan let-out date in spring for cows, calves and cattle.
To extend the grazing seasons this autumn and have early grass
next spring, you must have certain levels of grass on your farm
this autumn. Otherwise, you won't derive the benefi ts. The
following target covers (kgs DM/cow) are suggested for diff erent
stocking rates.
Date
Stocking Rate (cows/ha) on Milking Platform
2.5
3.0
3.5
1st September
300
330
310
15th September
450
375
320
1st October
400
330
280
15th October
350
300
240
If your stocking rate is 3.0 cows per hectare on MP in mid-
September, then your average farm cover (AFC) requirement is
1125kg DM/ha (3.0 X 375).
You will be aiming for highest farm covers in mid-September.
But pre-grazing covers (PGC) should not be greater than 2,300
Kgs DM; otherwise, quality will be very poor.
Rotation length will now be 35 days (approx)
Use the strip wire to ration grass if covers are greater than
2,000 Kgs DM and/or if cows are remaining in a paddock/fi eld
longer than 2 grazings; and/or if weather is wet.
Paddocks must be grazed out tight to 3.5 - 4.0 cms. This
encourages winter tillering, makes it easier to graze out the last
rotation and sets the farm up with less dung-pads for winter
(they rot). Where grass demand is greater than grass growth
quality round bales and meals must be introduced, otherwise,
grass will run on in late October.
Most highly stocked farmers will have to feed 2 - 4 kg. meal/cow/
day (citrus, palm kernel or soya hulls).
As a general rule, unless grass on the strong paddock is
excessively heavy, over 2,300 kgs DM, no cutting or topping
should be done in September.
It will have a very big detrimental eff ect on the quantity of
grass in the last rotation.
But where silage is very tight I think this rules doesn't stand
up the priority is to get as much silage as possible.
Do the last rotation plan now
This is a most useful tool to ensure you have adequate grass in
the diet for as long as you have planned to keep cows out. It also
ensures, with the knowledge that your closing farm cover should
be 550-700 kgsDM/ha, that you will have adequate grass next
spring.
PastureBase and Agrinet websites have a very simple to use
one: put in the area (ha) in MP; the start of last rotation
date; the date when you wish to have 70 per cent of MP
grazed; and the date you plan to fi nish grazing.
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