Autumn Budget Targets
- Enter the growth rates for the farm. The Moorepark figures may be too high for the first half of the budget and too low for the end of the year so adjust these.
- Establish the farm’s demand. Enter stock numbers, grass intake and the grazing area (and calving pattern if you have Autumn calvers). Stock numbers: remember to reduce numbers as you dry them off. Grass intake: enter the maximum grass intake at first and reduce it if necessary. Area: Is there second cut silage land that can be brought in just before the balance date or is the grazing area set from the start of the budget?
- Establish the balance date – when demand exceeds growth (peak cover).
- Establish the peak target AFC for the farm.
- What is the AFC doing through the Autumn period? Will you reach your peak cover? When do you run out of grass? Do you have to reduce your demand?
- Establish the target farm cover for mid/late August so you can build to peak at the balance date.
- Understand what is required to build target cover in late August – adjust demand.
1200 / 2700 kg DM would be considered the MAXIMUM your AFC should be at the balance date irrespective of SR.
SR X Cover/Cow (which is 400) = AFC at Balance Date
If stocked at 3.5 cows then the AFC at balance date “should be” 3.5 X 400 = 1400kg (2900 total cover). I say “should be” because we are to multiply SR X Cover/cow but having covers this high during this period will result in poor graze outs as ground conditions will not be favourable. In the long run, poor graze outs with high residuals will reduce winter tillering and spring pasture quality.
This is why the guideline states that the AFC should be a maximum of 1200 / 2700 kg DM so that the heaviest covers are no more than 2400 / 5400 kg DM which, with good grazing management, can be grazed out well.
Jordan Molloy – Grazing Consultant, Grasstec @Jordanmolloy22
“I teach farmers how to measure grass and the discipline needed to do weekly farm walks. I show them how to input their data onto Agrinet and how to understand the grass wedge. Each week presents a different scenario on the farm so it’s crucial that the farmer can interpret the data in order to make informed decisions. Grasstec consultants are available in Ireland and the UK.”