Adapting to variable grass growth in Downpatrick

Farm walk SM Farm

Taking early proactive management to deal with grass shortages will be the key discussion point at an upcoming AgriSearch-AFBI-CAFRE farm walk, to be held on the farm of Paul and Frank Turley in Downpatrick, 11 Struell Wells Road, Downpatrick, BT30 6RL, on Wednesday, August 29, at 6pm.

Paul and Frank run 190 Angus x British Friesian suckler cows on 400 acres with progeny finished as heifers/steers at 17-18 months. They also rear and finish 100 dairy origin Angus x Holstein cattle at 19-22 months.

Paul and Frank place a strong emphasis on good grassland management across the farm to ensure optimum performance can be achieved from grass. Cattle are finished without concentrates.

Frank commented: “We believe in weekly grass measuring and budgeting. It allows us not only to grow more grass but also enables maximal grass utilisation, which lowers the production cost of our beef system.”

Paul and Frank are one of 23 beef farms participating in the GrassCheck project, which involves weekly recording of grass growth across the grazing platform.

Weekly grass measurement was of critical importance in helping Paul and Frank proactively manage the impact of the recent severe drought. With this information they were able to take informed and timely decisions to mitigate the impact of the prolonged spell of severely depressed grass growth.

At the farm walk there will be the opportunity to hear about the GrassCheck project and the 2018 season so far, the farm’s grazing management approach, including how they proactively managed the recent drought, and options to get the most out of grass this autumn. The event will also focus on forage budgeting for the winter months.

AgriSearch’s Elizabeth Earle commented: “Grass growth this year has been extremely variable across NI and it’s important looking to the autumn that farms are well placed to make the most of grass at the end of the season and reduce pressure on winter forage supplies.”

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.


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