After several weeks of steady grass growth and with second cut silage complete, easing pressure on both set-stocked and cell grazed areas is high on the agenda for Andrew Jones Launceston, Cornwall.
Grass growth is just about meeting demand for beef cattle on the intensively managed cell grazing area. Mr Jones says: “We have 16 cells of roughly an acre in area and cattle are moved every other day to give a 32-day rotation.
“Currently, it is carrying 161 cattle averaging 360kg liveweight. Despite a tough spring, cattle turned out in early February have achieved 0.9kg daily liveweight gain to date.
“Working with James Daniel of Precision Grazing and using weekly platemeter readings and weather forecasts it is calculated we need 69.67kg DM/ha daily grass growth to support the stock and we are about there. Then comes along the ‘true’ Cornish weather and throws all our plans adrift.”
While some cattle have been moved to fresh cells before meeting a target residual of 1,800kg DM/ha to protect the quality of grazed grass, pressure will be eased by taking out cattle over 500kg liveweight to go into finishing yards as grass growth slows over summer, he explains.
“So far this season we have applied 60 units/acre of urea across the cells split across two applications – the latest going on in early June. Having taken second cut silage off 120 acres elsewhere we will be applying 3,600 gallons/acre of slurry to all but 30 acres needed for 380 replacement dairy heifers reared for a neighbour. These are currently set-stocked on permanent pasture.”
With little moisture so far this season, fertiliser timings have been influenced heavily by forecasts for rainfall. Growth rates should be better than last year having reseeded several fields last autumn but rejection has been a problem.
“We drilled late and did not get a herbicide applied which has seen mayweed – normally confined to compacted headlands and gateways – become an issue.
“I have applied Leystar to combat rejection and have also topped out dead material to improve palatability where I felt it was necessary.”
Elsewhere, with dairy heifers offered an 18 per cent concentrate at pasture to support a target daily growth rate of 1kg/head/day many are on course to be served at 13 months old at about 340kg liveweight.
Mr Jones says: “These were all TB tested in mid-June and went clear; our beef cattle – all 480 head and under a different holding number – are done a week later to spread the workload.”
A review of both spring drilled maize and fodder beet suggest both are looking well, he reports.
“Maize went in on May 9; any earlier here is usually detrimental unless drilled under plastic. I have applied Calaris to reduce risk of competition from weeds – the only herbicide application that is needed.”