Why grazing beef and dairy cattle are looking a bit empty

Most areas continue to have a plentiful supply of grass. Weather conditions however continue to be an issue for many livestock farmers this week.

Grass utilisation has dropped, due to heavy rain, and a lot of grass has been walked into the ground.

It is better to move out of paddocks before they are fully grazed out, rather than let animals do some damage to ground.

The grass left behind will still be there in the next rotation. Those measuring grass have seen good growth rates over the last few weeks.

Grass quality in decline

Grass quality on most farms looks good. due to favourable growing conditions for much of 2015. However. in the last two weeks. grass got much softer and lower in dry matter, as it generally does once we get into September.

This grass is now also low in fibre, and as a result, it has been noticeable that all stock’s dungs have got that bit looser.

Animals are going through grazing swards extremely fast. Paddocks that look to have good volumes of grass are being consumed quicker than expected.

It would be fair to assume that grass dry matters are below 15% around the country, and this has been confirmed by Moorepark, who recorded 13.5% dry matter on Tuesday of this week.

Beef cattle will consume approximately 2% of their own bodyweight in dry matter each day, so a 500kg bullock will require 70 plus kg of fresh grass. It’s a lot to expect in a 24-hour period.

Beef and dairy stock are beginning to look a little bit empty lately.

Dairy farmers are starting to see milk yields slip more than normally accepted, if they have not increased or introduced supplementation.

Given this trend, it is fair to assume that beef performance is also slipping, if beef animals are on similar pastures.

Feed weanlings at grass

At this stage of the year, in order to stretch grass supply, the best practice is to begin supplementing younger animals at grass.

They are the animals that require the least dry matter, so a little concentrate will go a long way to satisfying their requirements.

Secondly, they will do the least damage around the troughs when being fed. Weanlings also represent the least physical threat to the farmer when feeding them outside. More mature stock could inflict serious injury. if being fed outdoors.

Young Bulls

Autumn 2014 calves are now one year old, and no matter what their target slaughter age is, they should be close to housing at this stage.

For a 16-month finish, they need to be pushed from now on.

For older finishing, they should be brought in for further growing before finish. Feeding these bulls outdoors at this time of year will not maintain desirable thrive, and depending on the equipment available, it may prove to be very dangerous.

Once they go indoors, it is very important that they are on a suitable diet for their size and age. Bulls fed properly are extremely content, and spend most of their time lying down sleeping.

Unhappy bulls will fight and jump on each other. Seek expert nutritional advice for these bulls, to optimise returns.

Autumn finish on grass

Cattle to be finished off grass this autumn must at this stage be getting meal, if you are to achieve the desired conformation and fat grades.

Little or no protein is required in this supplement. Plenty of energy is what is required, and given the price of cereals at present, they should make up a very high percentage of the mix.

Feed budget

As the autumn creeps on and daylight hours are getting shorter, much of the fodder that will be saved has already been saved, or soon will be.

Maize silage crops look well, but they are in general not as ripe as they usually would be at this year, and the harvest date may be a few weeks later than last year, for most.

At this stage, it is time to again reassess your feed budget for the winter. The sooner this is done, the sooner you can deal with deficits or put your mind at ease that you will be OK for feed. Either way, do your sums.

Ploughing Championships

If you are heading to Co Laois next week for the Ploughing, make sure to get some value from your visit.

There will be plenty of exhibitions over the three days relating to animal performance improvements which could help your business.

It is the ideal opportunity to research any products and services that you are interested in, all in the one place.

What should you be looking at?

* Products and services that can increase animal performance and efficiency

* Facilities which make animal handling easier and safer for you and your stock

* New technology is popping up regularly in agriculture, and some of the new products are well worth looking into.


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