Bet­ter grass man­age­ment can give farm­ers an ex­tra €105 per hectare in prof­its

Irish Independent - Farming - - NEWS - CATHER­INE HUR­LEY

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.

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