Better grass management can give farmers an extra €105 per hectare in profits
IRISH farmers are only achieving 50-60pc of their grass growth potential, according to Teagasc — and missing out on up to €105 per hectare in lost profits.
Getting more for our grass is essential in making farming profitable, particularly beef farming, no matter where farms are, Teagasc researcher Nicky Byrne told the National Beef Conference.
He explained that farmers can achieve an extra €105 net profit per hectare if proper management and practices are applied to achieve the Grass10 national goals of 10 grazings per paddock, growing 13t DM/ha and utilising 10t DM/ha.
“These goals can be achieved throughout the country — it doesn’t matter where you’re located or what type of production system you have, these targets can be achieved and are being exceeded in many cases,” said Mr Byrne.
Reseeding and the use of elite varieties can also play a major role in increasing the level of utilisation and carrying capacity of swards, as well as improving animal performance.
Variety structure and quality greatly influence grazing efficiency; tetraploid varieties generally display better structures and quality, promoting better graze-outs, explained Mr Byrne.
“Looking at the density of the sward, farmers love density and animals despise it. It causes a barrier for grazing for cattle,” he said.
Grassland management needs to be optimised for varieties to express their full potential, Mr Byrne told the conference in Tullamore.
“With good management, farmers can achieve the 13t DM/ha and average 75pc utilisation and increase their profit per hectare,” he said.
Meanwhile, results of a pilot IBR (infectious bovine rhinotracheitis) programme carried out on 25 suckler herds in 22 counties show that 75pc of the farms tested have been exposed to IBR and are carriers.
Farmers interested in selling home-bred bulls to AI companies need to have their animals free from antibodies to IBR.
Infection is widespread in Irish herds, with approximately 75pc of both beef and dairy herds containing animals that have been exposed to IBR.