2015-12-18  

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Better Grassland Offers Bright Future for Livestock Farmers

Increasing dry matter production from grassland through improved use of currently available technology and resources is a realistic target for the large majority of Irish livestock farmers.

So says Dr Mary McEvoy, technical manager with Germinal, suppliers of the leading grass varieties in Ireland, adding that;
“any increase in output from grassland, whether grazed or conserved, would improve enterprise profitability and sustainability, as grass is undisputedly the cheapest feed source available”.

“We know that the top performers amongst Irish livestock farms are achieving upwards of 15 tonnes of dry matter per hectare from regularly reseeded, well-managed swards,” she said, “yet the average figure quoted by Teagasc is just over 9 t DM/ha grown, of which 7.2t DM/ha is utilised.

Mary McEvoy

Mary McEvoy

Teagasc has shown that increasing grass utilisation by 1 tonne DM/ ha can increase net profit by over €260/ha”.

“This shows that a majority of livestock farms are falling well below their potential, with the lost grassland production forcing higher use of far more expensive feeds which is eating into farm profit.”

“Germinal views the gap between current average performance from grassland and the realistic potential as a major hurdle to more profitable grass-based production systems.

Our aim is to help more livestock farmers grasp their opportunity to make their businesses more profitable.”

McEvoy was speaking in December as Germinal launched its new brand identity, a move that will herald a number of initiatives from the company, all aimed at improving efficiency across the livestock sector through maximising production from forage.

“We see our role as extending a long way beyond the supply of quality forage seeds,” she said.

“Innovation, expertise and the sharing of essential knowledge will feature more and more in Germinal’s future support of the farming industry.

Grassland production is the area where we expect to make the biggest difference.”

“It is not a coincidence that the most profitable herds are also the ones maximising the use of grass in the diet,” she said.

“Grazed grass and conserved grass silage always work out substantially cheaper than bought-in concentrate feeds, whatever the costing method.

The opportunity for dairy farmers, beef and sheep farmers, is to grow more grass of better quality, and utilise it more effectively.

This will increase the proportion of milk or meat produced from the cheapest feed, and that will result in higher margins.”

“A good starting point for many will be to increase the rate of reseeding, which is currently on average far lower than is required to maintain swards at their highest level of productivity.

Then it is about improving soils where necessary, selecting the best available mixtures, establishing new leys well, and managing them effectively.”

“In an industry currently faced with low output prices, and a future of inevitable volatility, increasing efficiency of production is of paramount importance.

The solution is growing under our feet.”

Germinal

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