- Newford Suckler Demonstration Farm stand at the Beef 2018 “Enhancing Knowledge” at Teagasc Grange Co , Meath
Grassland Management Details
- A major contributory factor to the poor grass growth is the soil moisture deficit (SMD). The soil moisture deficit is 50mm currently for the West of the country for the end of June.
- Grass growth is reduce by 25% at a soil moisture deficit of 50mm
- Water is also being lost from the soil at a rate of 3-4 mm per day through evaporation
Newford Farm feed management plan during the current drought conditions:
- Newford grass growth rates are already declining and expected to be well below normal levels to 30-40 kg ( DM/ha/day ) in the coming week.
- Newford Farm aim’s to turn cows into paddocks of 1000 – 1200kg of grass for as long as possible
- In the coming days the farm will aim to keep to a 25 day rotation.
- This will depend on the growth rate e.g. a growth rate of 43 kg/ha current PBI figure , equates to a 25 day rotation ( 1100kgs DM/ha pre-grazing divided by 43 kg/ha/day growth rate)
- About 25-30% of the diet will have to come from supplementary feed
- As growth rates are expected to decline further up to 50% of the diet will have to supplement.
- Newford will fill this feed gap left by reduced growth with round bales of silage , from surplus grass round bales made in May.
- Newford home farm has 26 ha, currently stock with a demand of 54 kg DM/ha.
- 1 ha will be grazed per day to extend rotation to 26 days.
- 4 round bales of silage will be fed to the cows (100) every 2 days @ grass.
- Newford has 2 batches of 50 cows in each batch ( 2 bales per bunch)
- This will increase or decreased based on intake and the situation will be review based on the weather forecast
- Bale silage can be fed at ANY stage after wrapping. The secret to this is that the bales are consumed almost immediately or certain within 24 hours.
- Put out 2 bales each day instead of 4 bales for 2 days.
- A typical bale made from surplus grass has about 200kg DM.
- 2 round bales will provide 100 animals with 4 kg DM/head /day.
- Expected intakes of round bales silage would be 3-4 kg DM for a 3-4 hour feeding period (mature animals) provided all animals have equal access.
- Actions need to be taken in advance to prevent situation worsening.
- Similar plan can be replicated on farms dealing with drought conditions
- Thanks to Teagasc Grass 10 (John Maher and Catherine Egan for the above information)