Irish farmers are only seeing 50-60pc of their grass growth potential and are not realising the full benefits of the cheapest form of feed – grazed grass, according to Teagasc.
Getting more for our grass is essential in making farming profitable, particularly beef farming, no matter where farms are or what type of production system farmers have, according to Animal and Grassland Teagasc researcher Nicky Byrne speaking at the recent National Beef Conference.
“We’re only operating 50-60pc of our grass production potential in Ireland,” he said at the annual conference held in Tullamore.
He explained that farmers can achieve an extra €105 net profit per hectare if proper management and practices are applied to achieve the Grass10 national goals of 10 grazings per paddock, growing 13t DM/ha and utilising 10t DM/ha.
“These goals can be achieved nationally, throughout the country, doesn’t matter where you’re located or what type of production system you have these targets can be achieve and are being exceeded in many cases
Reseeding and variety of grass
Reseeding and the use of elite varieties plays a major role in increasing the level of utilisation and carrying capacity of swards, whilst improving animal performance.
Variety structure and quality greatly influence grazing efficiency; tetraploid varities generally display better structures and quality promoting better graze outs, explained Nicky.
“Looking at the density of the sward – farmers love density and animals despise it. It causes a barrier for grazing for cattle.”
Grassland management and infrastructure is vital for getting the most out of the grass grown and increasing profitability on the farm.
Grassland management needs to be optimised for varieties to express their full potential.
“With good management, farmers can achieve the 13t DM/ha and average 75pc utilisation and increase their profit per hecatare.”