Regardless of the management of the milking herd, the majority of dairy youngstock will be turned out to grass this spring. By planning your grazing strategy now, there is potential to reduce rearing costs by increasing grassland utilisation and maximising growth rates.
Heifer Rearing gross margins from the Farm Management Handbook estimate the following grazing requirement for heifers assuming a set stocking regime from birth to calving.
Adopting a rotational or paddock grazing system can increase grassland utilisation by up to 92%, so there is potential on every farm to reduce the amount of grazing acres required for youngstock.
Rotational grazing works on the basic principle of grazing at the 3-leaf stage, for 3 days, then rest for 3 weeks to allow plant recovery.
A group of 40, 200kg heifers (6 months old) turned out in March and aiming to bull at 390kg at 15 months in September have the following grazing requirement:
Focusing on grassland management for dairy youngstock can increase the area on farm available for silage and crop if required, reduce the need for rented grazing and reduce fertiliser requirement. Take action now to invest in an electric fencing kit and water troughs, identify a suitable field and give it a go with a group this spring. This has the potential to be a very cost-effective way to rear beef calves for those of you who retain them to sell as bigger stores.
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