Last grazing rotation dates for dairy fast-approaching

Pasture-based dairy systems looking to graze into November should now be looking forward to next year and have closed up paddocks to support high-quality spring growth.

This is according to Irish grazing experts who say every effort should be made to manage pasture, with 2018 proving a costly and difficult year.

However, conditions and grazing covers vary hugely and some heavier, wetter farms will have already housed cows and closed pastures up in late September.

Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority) grassland specialist John Maher has reminded graziers that rotation length is held to a minimum of 30 days.

This is important because:

  • It will ensure that cows access grazed grass every day in October and early November if possible
  • Grass growth is maximized on the farm
  • Spring growth is set up by autumn grassland management

Mr Maher said: “To provide grass for grazing in early spring, grass has to be carried over from the autumn period due to low grass growth rates during the winter period. 

“Faraway pastures are always greener and spring grass is a much better feed for a cow than autumn grass.  So, it is important that we get the autumn management right so we have a good supply of high-quality spring grass available next February.”

Numbers for closing pastures

  • Last rotation should be 30-45 days (ie 7 October-7 November)
  • Every one week past closing on 10 October can reduce spring grass supply by 100kgDM/ha
  • Aim for 60-65% of the farm closed up by the first week of November