July 2017 Monthly Management

Grass Variety Selection, CellCheck Time for a Change, Gate Promotion

19 July 2017

Grass Variety Selection

When the decision is made to reseed a field, it is expected that the new sward will perform for ten years or longer, depending on the intended use – grazing, one or two cut silage, etc. In order to achieve this potential performance, it is essential to use only the best grass varieties from the Department of Agriculture Recommended List and the Teagasc Pasture Profit Index (PPI).By selecting the top certified varieties, there is the certainty that you are using grass seed that has been trialled and tested independently which will ultimately lead to increased sward utilisation, supporting animal performance and farm profitability

Department of Agriculture Recommended List

After a variety has been sown, it is assessed for a minimum of two years and must be set in at least two separate plots in order to meet statutory regulations. Using a trial-plot harvesting machine, grass varieties are tested under two different systems. The first is a simulated grazing system, which replicates the rotational pattern of a grazing year. The second system is a general purpose/ 2-cut silage system, involving one grazing cut in the spring followed by two silage cuts and then three grazing cuts.

The process for evaluating individual grass varieties uses a selection of key performance indicators to determine its ranking. These include the following:

  • Seasonal dry matter yields -Spring growth, Summer growth and Autumn growth
  • Quality – dry matter digestibility and water soluble carbohydrates (sugars),
  • Silage yield - first and second cut yields
  • Persistency – ground cover

Teagasc Pasture Profit Index (PPI)

The Pasture Profit Index uses the information from the recommended list and assigns an economic value to each grass variety based on their multiple traits (sub-indices) and trial performance, i.e. quality, seasonal dry matter yield and persistency. Each trait or sub-index has an individual value which contributes to the overall PPI value of the variety. The highest ranking variety on the PPI has the highest value per hectare. For example, in late tetraploid grasses, the top variety Abergain has a PPI value of €169/Ha compared to Delphin with a much lower PPI of €91/Ha. This is down to Abergain having far superior quality and seasonal growth values. As more information comes available from Department of Agriculture trial data and on-farm variety evaluation across the country, the PPI will be an essential tool in selecting grass seed varieties going forward into the future.

Drinagh Grass Seed Range

All Drinagh grass seed mixtures are formulated from certified seed from the Department of Agriculture Recommended list, with only top performing varieties being considered. Top PPI ranked varieties included in our mixtures are;

  • Abergain – highest ranked late tetraploid and best overall quality on the PPI
  • Astonenergy – One of the highest ranked varieties on quality
  • Aberchoice – highest ranked late diploid on the PPI
  • Drumbo – another top diploid with a balance of quality and seasonal growth
  • AberMagic – highest ranked intermediate diploid with exceptional seasonal growth
  • Seagoe – highest ranked tetraploid variety for silage values

Contact Tim Regan or Darren Lynch for further advice on reseeding and grass seed variety selection.

CellCheck Time for a Change

Assuming you started the spring with a new set of liners, then it’s definitely time to change them now if you haven’t already done so. To help prevent mastitis, CellCheck recommends that liners are changed every 2,000 milkings, or every 6 months whichever comes first. For example, for the average Irish milk recording herd of 79 cows, if the full herd has been milking since March 1st in a 10 unit swing over parlour, the milking liners will have clocked up over 2,800 milkings by 31st August. These liners had completed 2,000 milkings by July 4th!

Cluster liners are designed to flex and squeeze the teat during each pulsation cycle. This massages teats and maintains blood supply. While liners are working they begin to lose tension, absorb fat and hold bacteria. After too many milkings this can reduce the speed and completeness of milking, resulting in a loss of milk yield. It also increases teat end damage and increases the spread of mastitis bacteria. Fatigued rubber can also hold bacteria and this can increase the total bacterial count (TBC) if dirt is being trapped.

To estimate how often you should change your liners, based on the number of rows you’re milking:

No. of rows Days between changes
6 167
7 143
8 125
9 111
10 100
11 91
12 83

So, if you’re milking 8 rows of cows, you should be changing your liners every 125 days, which is approx every 4 months.

If you’re milking 11 rows of cows, you should be changing your liners every 91 days, which is approx every 3 months.

Gate Promotion 2017

15% off all standard and heavy gates

Promotion starts on 31st July 2017 and ends on the 5th August 2017