Grazing deferred on most beef farms

After a great January and early February, the weather turned quite wet in many areas. Growth is good, but a further spell of better weather is now needed to get more slurry and fertiliser out.

Many dairy farmers have had cows out for a few hours by day. However, very few beef farmers have yet turned out stock.

For many, grazing is still a bit away, due to ground conditions. Ground is in excellent condition on most farms, but there is some standing water, and any traffic at present will damage the top surface.

Don’t travel on ground or turn animals out if you will do excessive damage. Any damage that you do at this time of year is likely to reduce overall grass yield for the year.

But if you are lucky enough to be out grazing, it is important to manage the swards carefully.

The better you graze out paddocks in the first rotation, the better subsequent grass quality will be.

Don’t rule out using a strip wire in the first rotation to help reduce damage and to ensure paddocks are grazed out effectively.

The strip wire may be extra work but it improves the utilisation of your grass.

On-off grazing is also worth considering, if it is easy to get stock back into the yard with minimum stress for man and beast!

Make sure to check water troughs before you put stock into each paddock, and where possible, clean each trough out, and disinfect them.

Animal performance

When turning stock out early, you need to consider animal performance.

Try not to turn out cattle unless sufficient grass is available to them to maintain target performance.

Many younger cattle being turned out early will benefit from being fed concentrates for a period to transition them to an all-grass diet. This is particularly the case for heifers you will be inseminating seven or eight weeks from now.

Fencing

Check that fences are in good working order before you let cattle enter a paddock. Replace any broken posts and repair any broken wire or insulators. Beef cattle in particular have an amazing talent for finding weak spots in any fence.



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