Proactive management in dealing with grass shortages will be the key discussion point at an upcoming farm walk, to be held on the farm of Paul and Frank Turley in Downpatrick, Co. Down.

The farm walk is being hosted in partnership with AgriSearch, Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) – on Wednesday, August 29, at 6:00pm.

The Turleys run 190 Angus/British Friesian cross suckler cows on 400ac with progeny finished as heifers/steers at 17-18 months. They also rear and finish 100 dairy origin Angus/Holstein cross cattle at 19-22 months.

Paul and Frank said they place a strong emphasis on good grassland management across the farm to ensure optimum performance can be achieved from grass. Cattle are finished without concentrates.

Grass measuring and budgeting

Frank commented: “We believe in weekly grass measuring and budgeting. It allows us not only to grow more grass but also enables maximum grass utilisation, which lowers the production cost of our beef system.”

Paul and Frank are one of 23 beef farms participating in the GrassCheck project which involves the weekly recording of grass growth across the grazing platform.

Weekly grass measurement was said to be of critical importance in helping Paul and Frank proactively manage the impact of the recent severe drought.

With grass measurement information recorded, they were able to take informed and timely decisions to mitigate the impact of the prolonged spell of severely depressed grass growth.

At the farm walk, there will be the opportunity to hear about the GrassCheck project and the 2018 season so far, the farm’s grazing management approach, including how they proactively managed the recent drought and options to get the most out of grass this autumn.

The event will also focus on forage budgeting for the winter months.

Variable growth

AgriSearch’s Elizabeth Earle commented: “Grass growth this year has been extremely variable across NI and it’s important looking to the autumn that farms are well placed to make the most of grass at the end of the season and reduce pressure on winter forage supplies.”

In the interests of biosecurity, those attending are asked to wear clean clothing not previously worn while in direct contact with their own animals. Directions to the site can be found here.