This summer has been tough for grass growth. Most of us are still looking to take some silage off the farm. But irrespective of the tough summer we must do our utmost to build a wedge of grass to late September, allowing our cows to graze to late October/early November and closing the farm off with the correct farm cover.
KEY POINT Every extra tonne of grass utilised is worth €90/ha.
Goal of Autumn Grassland Management:
- Increase the number of days at grass and animal performance,
- Set the farm up during the final rotation to grow grass over winter and provide grass the following spring.
There are two key Autumn periods:
- Period of autumn grass build-up.
- Autumn rotation planner.
Building Autumn Grass:
- To build grass from mid-August, rotation length should be increased from 25 to 30 days in mid/late August to 35 to 40 days in late September. If you are still trying to conserve silage you will have to feed 3-4 kg of the grass/ fodder extender nut to your cows to allow this. Measure the grass you have on farm and take out the excess as bales.
- Graze cover <2300kg DM/ha. Higher pre-grazing yields will result in poor pasture quality, utilisation and poorer winter and spring growth.
- Aim to have the highest farm cover in mid-September.
- Start closing paddocks in early October. Last grazing rotation should be 30 to 40 days with first fields rested from 10th to 15th October. Closing should be a week to 10 days earlier on heavier type soils.
- Graze paddocks to 4cm. Use younger or lighter animals or dry cows to achieve this residual in wetter conditions.
Autumn Rotation Planner:
If you do not close up the farm with a sufficient cover in winter 2018, you wont have grass in spring 2019. The Autumn rotation planner ensures you have a proactive plan in place to close up the farm at the correct cover
KEY POINT 2019 grazing starts in October 2018.
- Start closing 10th October
- Have 60% of the farm grazed by first week November
- The final 40% grazed by 1 December.
Heavy or slow grass growing farms:
- Start closing 1 October
- Have 60% of the farm grazed by 20th October
- The final 40% grazed by mid-November