Rotational grazing for store cattle case study
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Rotational grazing for store cattle case study. Rhidian Jones Sheep and beef specialist SAC Consulting. From set stocking to paddocks. Set stocking. Grazing system, yield and utilisation. Assessing pasture cover. Rotational grazing of cattle for cattle.

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Rotational grazing for store cattle case study

Rotational grazing for store cattle case study

Rhidian Jones

Sheep and beef specialist

SAC Consulting





Rotationalgrazing of cattle for cattle

  • Objective was to add value to store cattle at grass at South Mains, Sanquhar- 2009-2012

  • Stabiliser bullocks and spare heifers

  • Principles of management

    • Dry Matter Intake of 2.5% of liveweight

    • Pasture cover and grass growth rate measured with rising plate meter

    • Group demand calculated

    • Cattle moved when residual height ca1500 kg DM/ha

    • Compromise between livestock intake and grass growth

5


Basic feed budget
Basic feed budget

  • Size of paddock 1 ha

  • Pasture cover 2700 kg DM/ha

  • Desired residual 1500 kg DM/ha

  • Available DM 1200 x 1 ha = 1200 kg DM

  • Group size 40 bullocks of 400 kg

  • Group demand/day 40 x 400 x 2.5% = 400 kg DM/d

  • = 3 days grazing (1200/400)

  • Also allow for grass growth with longer grazing periods but 3 days is optimum

  • Variables - grass growth, paddock size, grass potential, cattle getting bigger, fertiliser etc



Infrastructure
Infrastructure

  • Permanent electrified wire on top of dykes and fences

  • These will last 10-15 years +

  • Temporary electric fencing that is hooked onto the permanent hot wires

  • Good layout of fields, i.e. four central fields can be accessed from different sides to add flexibility

  • More water troughs installed in 2010/11 (and 2012) allowing further subdivision of fields – pipes laid on surface and disconnected in winter

  • Decided on 3 groups of ca 40-45 cattle – nearby handling facilities not able to cope with more than 50 cattle


A

B

C

D


A

B

C

D


Results
Results

  • 2009

    • Bullocks averaged 1.08 kg/hd/day

    • Mixed groups averaged 0.94 kg/hd/day

    • Overall average 1.00 kg/hd/day

  • 2010

    • Bullocks averaged 1.10 kg/hd/day

    • Heifers averaged 1.00 kg/hd/day

    • Overall average 1.07 kg/hd/day

  • 2011

    • Bullocks averaged 0.97 kg/hd/day

    • Heifers (15) averaged 0.86 kg/hd/day

    • Overall average 0.95 kg/hd/day

  • 3 year average 1.01 kg/hd/day

  • 2012 0.92 kg/hd/day

  • 2013 no data but best prices ever!!


Consistent results
Consistent results

  • Compensatory growth effect?

    • Ca 0.6 kg/hd/day in winter seems optimum

  • Cope with different seasons

    • Early & late spring

    • Drought and (very) wet conditions

  • Flexible

    • Take silage/reseed if surplus grass

    • Apply fertiliser if deficit forecast

  • Quiet cattle

    • Get used to moving- only takes 5-10 minutes to shift

  • Provides selection data

    • Select breeding stock that perform at grass





Why do it
Why do it?

  • Cheapest liveweight gain

    • Grazed grass £25 to £50 per tonne of DM

    • Need 10-15 kg grass DM/kg gain

    • Therefore costs 25p to 75p/kg gained at grass if well managed, quality is high and unrestricted

  • Easy to set up and manage

  • Maintains grass quality for longer

  • Stock need checking anyway and are easy to move

  • 200 kg at grass is achievable with a 6 ½ month grazing season and 1 kg/hd/day


Winter grassland management to get more early grass in spring
Winter grassland management to get more early grass in spring

  • Set stocking depletes grass reserves

    • Productive grasses regrow and get eaten!

    • Allows weed grasses to flourish

    • Late grass in spring- more concentrates required

  • Move sheep around in blocks- 1 day to 1 week

    • Allows flexibility

    • Remove from wettest fields when conditions unsuitable

    • Grass does grow in winter (use a cage and you’ll see)

    • PRG given a chance to recover reserves

    • Earlier grass in spring- stop feeding concentrates to sheep sooner and can get cattle out earlier


Effect of continuous winter grazing on spring growth
Effect of continuous winter grazing on spring growth spring

Reduced feed requirements

Supplementary feeding required



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