On a weekly basis, Grasstec will be providing grazing data from a robot farm in the South East of Ireland. The blog will include the decisions for the week, an update of the previous week and all the Agrinet grass wedge information. The grassland management used on this farm can be applied to conventional systems as the main principles are the same; increase grass grown and utilised in the diet in order to increase milk solids/ha. The blog will include methods to achieve low residuals, high quality swards and high grass growths. Grasstec will also go through the spring and autumn budget for the farm and explain the reasoning behind budgeting. The blog will be uploaded every Monday morning on the website and through Grasstec’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
Robot Grazing Herd Background
A herd of 90 cows are grazing an ABC robotic grazing system in the South East of Ireland. The farm is a dry farm, prone to summer droughts. Average annual rainfall is 840mm and average annual soil temperature is 9.5°C. The cows are 600kg Holstein Friesian, with some Norwegian Red crosses in the 1st/2nd calvers. The Herd EBI is €139; €82 for fertility. The cows are on a Greenfield site so once they calve down, they graze outdoors full-time for 300+ days. This year they were out full-time from 2nd of February.
Weekly Diary of Robotic Grazing Farm – 15th June (week 25)
- Growth 82.1kg DM/ha
- AFC 667kg DM/ha
- Cover/cow 195kg DM
- Demand/ha 58.2kg DM/ha
- MS/cow 2.09kg
- Fat 3.84%
- Protein 3.48%
Last week, we baled out 3 paddocks from C as they were >1500kg DM/ha and we wanted them back in rotation before we hit a potential drought. We changed the hours entering the C paddocks from 8hours to 12hours. We have heavy covers of 1600kg DM/ha in C8 & C9 – they are 50% clover and grass is not stemmy so cows will continue to graze them. We are expecting a drought so we need to graze these higher quality covers rather than bale them; cows are cleaning them out well.
The B paddocks were slow to come back from baling 3 paddocks 15 days ago. We reduced the hours entering B to 5 hours. Changing times has helped with the surplus in C and the deficit in B. The B paddocks have high clover content so colder weather would have affected the regrowths. The cows are continuing to graze A1, which is on it’s fifth rotation with some stemmy grass but cows are doing a good job grazing it out.
We are heading into a drought on farm as the area has had no rainfall in the last 7+ days so our grassland management principles will have to change. We will extend are rotation to 23 days as our growths will drop to at least the 40’s kg DM/ha. The plan is to build covers and keep cover/cow at >190kg to ensure there is grass in front of cows. Dry matter of grass will increase to 19-23% depending on the drought severity. We will spread ¾ of a bag of SulfaCAN this week in the hope of some rain and try to keep the grass protein up for as long as possible. We will spread fertiliser on a weekly basis now to maximise our chances of N uptake
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.”