Late spring beef tips

Irish Examiner - Farming - - GENERAL FARMING -

Cat­tle spe­cial­ist Karen Dukelow says re­search by Tea­gasc has shown that spread­ing 48 units of N/acre in the spring pro­duced ex­tra grass at a cost of €80/t of dry mat­ter (even at a mod­er­ate re­sponse to ni­tro­gen).

This is far cheaper than silage cost­ing about €150/t of DM and meal which costs around €300/t of DM.

“In a year were both silage and grass sup­plies are tight you can­not af­ford not to spread ni­tro­gen.”

She said the de­ci­sion to graze silage ground or not is farm spe­cific.

“Where lit­tle or no ground has been grazed this spring, it will make sense to close silage ground with­out graz­ing, fer­tilise and close.

“Where grass is very tight or where silage ground is the only dry ground, it will make sense to graze silage ground.” “It is im­por­tant to start look­ing ahead to the silage har­vest in or­der to en­sure the max­i­mum yield and best qual­ity pos­si­ble. “Cut­ting silage from the third week of May to the start of June will en­sure that there will also be an op­por­tu­nity to take a sec­ond cut, thereby max­imis­ing the silage yield for the year.”

Be flex­i­ble

“The key to man­ag­ing graz­ing with poor ground con­di­tions is to be flex­i­ble. “Be pre­pared to think out­side the norm and bring cat­tle in again if needs be. “Any­thing that gives you more op­tions will help, such as mul­ti­ple gaps in fields, strip wire, road­ways, etc. “Have you thought about on/off graz­ing? Many of ye will say this is im­pos­si­ble or ‘it’ s all right for dairy farm­ers’, but why not bring cat­tle off grass if it starts a down­pour while they are out?

“A few hours graz­ing are far bet­ter than none, and you will limit dam­age to the ground by tak­ing them off while it is wet over­head.

“Some suck­ler farm­ers turn suck­ler cows out after the school run in the morn­ing and bring them in again be­fore do­ing the school run in the af­ter­noon.

“There is no prob­lem get­ting cows back in, as they will want to re­turn to their calves. Ev­ery day at grass is worth €2 per animal. So, for 35 cows and 35 year­lings, it is worth €140 per day or €1,000 per week. Karen Dukelow ad­vised to avoid spread­ing slurry on heavy cov­ers of grass un­less it is very wa­tery.

“There is a risk that thick slurry will stick to the leaves and will re­duce palata­bil­ity for graz­ing. “In­stead, con­sider ap­ply­ing slurry to the ground im­me­di­ately after it has been grazed, so that there is time for it to have soaked in be­fore the sec­ond ro­ta­tion.”

If silage is scarce, cat­tle still in­doors, other than fin­ish­ing stock, can be re­stricted to 40% of their fod­der re­quire­ment by sup­ple­ment­ing with ex­tra con­cen­trate.

It can be dif­fi­cult to weigh silage; for sim­plic­ity, it may be eas­ier to halve the num­ber of grabs/bales be­ing fed, with ex­tra meal be­ing fed.

“Or an­other handy rule of thumb is a 600kg round bale would com­fort­ably feed 20 cows with 2kg of meal. “Meal feed­ing com­pares well with buy­ing in ex­tra silage with the meal feed­ing cost­ing 50c/day per cow and buy­ing in silage cost­ing €1/day.

“How­ever, for this sys­tem to work, silage needs to be re­stricted and ev­ery animal needs to eat at once, so feed space is crit­i­cal, al­low 2ft per cow and 1ft per year­ling. “Don’t for­get to feed min­er­als, par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant with lim­ited and or poor qual­ity silage.” “En­sure a good sup­ply of fresh wa­ter.

“Build up feed­ing rates slowly. This may re­quire set­ting up ad­di­tional trough feed­ing space in yards. All an­i­mals should be mon­i­tored reg­u­larly for signs of ill-thrift on this sys­tem. Mon­i­tor cow con­di­tion reg­u­larly.”

Pic­tures: O’Gor­man Pho­tog­ra­phy

Pre­sen­ta­tion of cer­tifi­cates in the Sale­sian Agri­cul­tural Col­lege, Pal­laskenry, Co Lim­er­ick: IFA deputy pres­i­dent Richard Kennedy with Level 6 Dairy Stu­dent of the Year Gearoid Slat­tery, Bal­lina, Co Tip­per­ary, and be­low, Tim Hussey, DeLaval, pre­sent­ing...

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.