The first “Grazing for Growth” farm walk being organised by AFBI, CAFRE and AgriSearch will be held on the farm of John Egerton near Rosslea, County Fermanagh on Wednesday 24th April at 2pm. John farms 90 suckler cows, with the herd split up 50:50 into spring and autumn calving groups. Male progeny are finished as bulls. Females are reared as replacement heifers with surplus replacements sold on to other herd owners. All cows are bred to high genetic merit sires through the use of AI, which has been used for 19 years on the farm. He also has a sheep enterprise consisting of 150 ewes, lambing March/April.
John is one of 21 beef farms participating in the GrassCheck project which involves the recording of grass growth and quality across the grazing platform. John has been measuring grass growth on his farm for several years as a management tool to maximise performance from grass. His excellent grassland management skills has seen him being the recipient of the Ulster Grassland Farmer of the Year, 2018 as well as being the runner up in the British Grassland Farmer of the year competition.
In 2018 the farm achieved an average of 13.3t dry matter/ha grown, with an average grass utilisation rate of 90% across the grazing platform.
Several topics will be addressed during the farm walks, including an overview of the data gathered from the GrassCheck beef pilot farmers over the course of the last two years. This highlights the variation in grass growth and weather conditions over two very different years.
The second stop will look at optimising soil management to maximise grass production. The considerable variation of yields from paddock to paddock seen across the GrassCheck farms will be highlighted and strategies to optimise the use of artificial fertiliser examined.
The third stop will look at infrastructure needed to successfully set up a grazing rotation for maximising utilisation of grass. This will include how to set up a simple low-cost paddock system.
The final stop will look at how to optimise livestock performance from grazed grass. This will highlight the results of recent AFBI research and indicate how to maintain healthy cattle at grass.
The farm walk will be held on Wednesday 24th April 2019 at 2pm at Lisnavoe, Rosslea, County Fermanagh, BT92 7ND.
A further “Grazing for Growth” beef farm walk will be held on Wednesday 1st May 2019 at 2pm on the farm of Harold and Philip Truesdale, 24 Lighthouse Road, Ballyward, Castlewellan, County Down, BT31 9UB.
Both farm walks will last approximately two hours.
In the interests of biosecurity those attending are asked to wear clean clothing not previously worn while in direct contact with their own animals. Outdoor work boots should not be worn. Protective overalls and footwear will be provided.