Advice for beef farmers: Sudden change to exceptional growth rates

Grass got ahead of many dairy and beef producers during the good spell of weather over the last two weeks.

Grass can be a difficult crop to manage at times, particularly when we go from a period of very poor growth to exceptional growth rates all of a sudden.

I have walked farms this week where grass covers have been underestimated as much as one third.

Poor utilisation of grass has a huge knock-on effect on animal performance.

Strong grass is wasted by animals trampling on it and this grass is also much lower in energy and digestibility, not to mention the next round of grazing, if it is not topped.

Taking out surplus grass

It is critical that you get a handle on grass quality sooner rather than later, to optimise performance from grass. If you get a grip of it now, then you could be amazed how much silage you might gather up from your grazing platform.

As I keep saying, skip strong paddocks and pit or wrap them once they are identified as surplus, while continuing to fertilise and grow grass while it will grow.

Don’t wait for a main cut of silage to take out surplus grass, as it delays that paddock’s return to productivity.

Live weight gain from grass

* If grass quality is poor, then you need to address it immediately.

* Take out surplus grass sooner rather than later.

* Don’t reduce fertiliser use below recommended rates for your rotation length; grow grass when it will grow.

* If you regularly need to take out surplus paddocks, keep nitrogen application at one unit per day, this will ensure that preservation is successfully achieved in both bales and pit-saved silage.

* Don’t hold back several fields/paddocks for wrapping on the one day, as they will all be ready for grazing at the one time in the next rotation, leading to another surplus.

* If your grass quality is poor, and perhaps you are also short of grass, then in order to achieve target weight gains, you may need to feed meal.

If you don’t feed during a period of energy deficit, it will be very hard for cattle to catch up and to reach targets.


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