Alarm bells have started ring­ing on graz­ing con­di­tions

Irish Independent - Farming - - FARM OUR - MARY KIN­STON

AF­TER a rel­a­tively dry first six months of the year, we have now had two months where rain­fall has ex­ceeded 100ml per month on our farm in Kerry.

In my ex­pe­ri­ence, rain­fall in ex­cess of 100ml is the alarm bell warning of trou­ble­some graz­ing con­di­tions.

In heav­ier ground this is cer­tainly the case, al­though this type of ground held up well un­til re­cently. Grass growth has con­tin­ued to forge ahead so build­ing cov­ers as we head into the au­tumn hasn’t been a prob­lem. Hit­ting the tar­get ro­ta­tion of 30 days by Septem­ber 1 has hap­pened with rel­a­tive ease.

How­ever, achiev­ing good resid­u­als hasn’t been so easy, with cows ex­hibit­ing some dis­con­tent­ment in this wet weather.

Sup­port­ing yields with one to two kgs of meal has been em­ployed on many a unit.

Is this feed ef­fec­tive? In my ex­pe­ri­ence cer­tainly dur­ing pro­longed pe­ri­ods of wet weather it can ben­e­fit the cows as they strug­gle to con­sume ad­e­quate amounts of grass dry mat­ter.

As we con­tinue to head into a pe­riod of ex­tend­ing the graz­ing ro­ta­tion, feed can also be ef­fec­tive in aid­ing the in­crease in av­er­age farm cover or cover per cow re­quired to ex­tend the ro­ta­tion. As we pro­ceed through Septem­ber the ro­ta­tion needs to ex­tend fur­ther, tar­get­ing 35 days by mid-Septem­ber and 40 days by Oc­to­ber 1. Dur­ing this time av­er­age cov­ers should rise to in ex­cess of 1000kg/ha to fa­cil­i­tate ex­tend­ing the graz­ing sea­son well into Novem­ber.

How­ever where the farm is deemed heavy soil type com­bined with high rain­fall us­ing a fi­nal graz­ing ro­ta­tion of 35 days will see the farm close up by the start of Novem­ber.

This may be more ap­pro­pri­ate for wet farms depend­ing on how the au­tumn weather plays out.

Poach­ing ground in au­tumn needs to be avoided where pos­si­ble as the im­pact of au­tumn poach­ing is al­ways seen in the fol­low­ing spring.

When con­sid­er­ing the cows, for spring calv­ing herds early Septem­ber is an ideal time to

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