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To contact one of our “Forage for Profit” team, call the Seed Office on 01769 576232
or Graham Ragg on 07798 583667
or email info@molevalleyfarmers.com.

 

Autumn Born Dairy Heifers at Grass

The objectives with Autumn born heifers should be to:

a) maximise LWt gain at grass
b) achieve an average LWt gain of .75 kg / day
c) reach a bulling Wt of 330-350 kg at 15 months and calve at 2yrs old.
d) cut the costs of growing replacements.

Ideally turn out should have been at the end of March onto short grass, supplemented with 1 or 2 kg of concentrate, until the rumen has adjusted to the change of diet and there is sufficient grass. Not all calves will be of the same size at turn out, so separate and supplement the smallest at the higher rate to enable a tighter bulling period.

There are three maxims to remember:

1. 60% of the annual growth rate takes place during April to June
2. grass grows grass, if allowed
3. grass must be of the highest quality and digestibility to achieve the necessary target gains

These objectives are most readily met by providing 6 to 8 paddocks, allowing good grazing control, re-fertilising and conservation. Continuous grazing or remaining in a field for more than a week seriously reduces the grass yield as the growing tip is eaten off and requires more energy and sugars to replace it, sugars that would have been provided by the new leaves if not eaten off!

The ideal grazing height is between 6-9 cms in May and June, and a little longer after that. Cut longer paddocks for silage and top the others late May to July to maintain quality, note that it is necessary to at below 6 cms. Even with this management, grass quality will drop in the autumn as sugar and energy levels reduce and pasture contamination reduces palatability. Live weight gains may drop to 0.4 kg/day without a supplementary 2 – 2.5 kg of concentrate in September and housing when the weather breaks.

This is the reverse of turn out and is because of the lower feed value of late October grazing. It is also important that cattle are housed on their winter diet for three weeks before bulling to allow their systems to adjust to the change of food. Ideally the calves should be weighed at turn out to group for size, and in July and August to supplement any slow growers and to check on average daily LWt gains, and responding as necessary with extra feed.

The young cattle must be wormed as advised by your Vet or qualified agricultural advisor, and there are numerous products and strategies to suit all farm circumstances. Finally, be prepared to fertilise regularly through the season to maintain grass growth, using about 200 kgs of N per ha in total.

Beef Young Stock and Stores

Autumn born dairy beef calves should be managed under the same system, but should be targeting at 0.85 kg daily gain and larger stores of 350 kg plus should target a 200 kg again over the season, but to do so requires early planning for a March turn out, and don’t forget to cut out the concentrates for the last month to cash in on the compensatory growth at grass. The returns are eye watering when one considers that the cost of 1kg LWt gain from grass will be 1/6th of the cost of same gain once housed. Many costed farms only achieve gains of 150-160 kg from grass, compared to the best at 200-210 kg, giving them a considerable cost saving, which is compounded by a reduction in the days of housing needed before marketing.
 

 



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