The upcoming AgriSearch-AFBI-CAFRE farm walk on 25th April at 10:45 am, to be held at the farm of Joe Cush near Pomeroy, Co. Tyrone, will discuss grazing management to maximise milk from grass on a heavy farm.
Joe runs a 70 cow herd of Holstein-Friesians, with an average yield of 7,000 litres per cow, feeding 1.5t concentrates per cow. The 150ac farm has a strong focus on grassland management to maximise milk from forage, which averages 3,429 litres/cow/year.
Joe is one of 20 dairy farms participating in the GrassCheck project which involves weekly recording of grass growth across the grazing platform. Joe has been measuring grass growth on his farm for the last four years using AgriNet, across the 50 acre grazing platform located beside the main yard. Joe commented “weekly grass monitoring has been really useful to identify the best performing paddocks as well as underperforming paddocks to prioritise for reseeding”.
Grassland management is a key focus for the farm. Soil nutrients are monitored on both grazed and silage ground, with the regular application of lime and maintenance of nutrient levels across the farm. Sward renewal with regular reseeding helps to maintain the high-quality grass growth that is achieved on this farm. To help to maintain the quality and lifespan of grazing covers, Joe also over-seeds some swards.
In 2018 the farm achieved an average of 11.7 t dry matter/ha grown, with an average grass utilisation rate of 88% across the grazing platform. The all-grass, LFA farm also employs on/off grazing to maximise use of grass at the shoulders of the season with 8 days of grazing achieved in February this year in good weather conditions.
The herd is typically grazed from mid-March with a target of 6 months grazing. Joe commented “with difficult ground conditions at the start of the year its often not possible to graze as tight in the first rotation, in the second round we place more emphasis on getting on top of residuals to maintain good quality at the next rotation.”
On average 9.8 grazings were achieved per paddock last year, with average pre- and post-grazing residuals of 2,806 and 1,703 kg DM/ha, respectively.
At the farm walk event there will also be an opportunity to hear updates on the GrassCheck programme for 2019, along with the latest AFBI grassland research and a focus on discussing grass budgeting for the year ahead.
The farm walk will be held on: 25th April 2019 at 10:45 am at 92 Lurganeden Road, Pomeroy, Tyrone, BT70 2TL.