Dairy Expansion – Grass is Key by Jordan Molloy Grassland Consultant
Now that we’re quota free, farmers are looking to expand their herd size. Recently I was at a discussion group; a farmer had just leased more land and so wondered about the future possibilities of his farm when it comes to dairy expansion.
How many cows can the farmer stock?
Currently stocked at 2.4 cows/ha, the farmer wonders what he can push the milking platform stocking rate (SR) to. Assuming he wants to maximise the amount of days grazing grass, SR is completely dependent on tonnes of DM of grass grown and utilised per year. In 2014, the farm grew 10 tonnes of DM/ha.
By measuring grass, you will know your tonnes of DM grown. This can vary from farm-to-farm and paddock-to-paddock. From this information, you will be able to see your ‘poorer’ performing paddocks and come up with solutions to increase the grass grown. N application, P&K indexes, sward type, use of the sward (grazing vs. silage) and rotation length are just a few factors that will impact your total grass grown in a paddock. By increasing the tonnes of DM grown/year, the farmer can increase the number of cows needed to graze the extra grass.
Jordan Molloy – Grazing Consultant, Grasstec
“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.”