Look to dairy-style grazing

13 October 2000

Look to dairy-style grazing

ROTATIONAL grazing dairy-style can have benefits for suckler producers, said beef adviser at Greenmount College Cormac McKervey.

He told producers at Suckler 2000 that it can save 8-10p/kg carcass weight in feed costs. To take advantage of this all producers should have a target of increasing days at grass to 200 a year.

Although following grazing principles used for dairy cows, Mr McKervey said it was best to adapt these and not take them to their full extreme.

"Instead of having 20-21 paddocks as in a dairy rotation, we suggest about four to six paddocks for beef cattle. Ideally they should spend about four days in each and return to that paddock about 21 days later."

There were concerns over cattle poaching grass in early and late season, said Mr McKervey. He reckoned the best solution is to set stock with three to four cattle a field at the shoulders of the season, in spring and late autumn.

"Then you can start rotational grazing when grass has started to grow." He said that an ideal start point was to begin the rotation with 10-12 days grazing ahead of cattle.

"In midsummer you need a 15-18 day grazing round before going back into pastures, and in autumn about a 30-day rotation."

He warned producers that sheep must be off fields by mid January, otherwise they would eat into next seasons growth.

Cattle should still average good growth rates, he added, with steers averaging 0.9kg/day, amounting to 180kg liveweight gain grass.

Lifting liveweight gain from grass from 150kg to 180kg would be worth £30/head or £1200/year in a 40-cow herd, said Mr McKervey. &#42

Rotational grazing dairy-style, but using four to six paddocksfor four days each, may help producers cut costs, says Cormac McKervey.

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