“Grazing for Growth” beef farm walk in south Down

Philip Truesdale looks forward to welcoming visitors to his farm for the 'Grazing to Growth' beef farm walk being organised by AFBI, CAFRE and AgriSearch.
Philip Truesdale looks forward to welcoming visitors to his farm for the 'Grazing to Growth' beef farm walk being organised by AFBI, CAFRE and AgriSearch.

The second “Grazing for Growth” farm walk being organised by AFBI, CAFRE and AgriSearch will be held on the farm of Philip Truesdale, Ballyward, County Down on Wednesday, May 1, at 2pm.

Philip (who farms in partnership with his father Harold) farms 70 suckler cows, with all progeny taken through to beef. He also has a sheep enterprise consisting of 200 ewes.

Philip is one of 21 beef farms participating in the GrassCheck project which involves the recording of grass growth and quality across the grazing platform. Philip has been measuring grass growth on his farm for several years as a management tool to maximise performance from grass. His excellent grassland management skills have seen him being awarded the title of “Beef Farmer of the Year” at the Farming Life Awards in 2018 as well as receiving the “Young Beef & Sheep Award” from the Ulster Grassland Society earlier that year.

In 2018 the farm achieved an average of 10.8t dry matter/ha grown, with an average grass utilisation rate of 80% across the grazing platform. This was down from 13.1t in 2017 due to the drought conditions experienced during the summer. Despite the difficult conditions in 2018 he still managed an average of eight grazings per paddock.

Several topics will be addressed during the farm walks, including an overview of the data gathered from the GrassCheck beef pilot farmers over the course of the last two years. This highlights the variation in grass growth and weather conditions over two very different years.

The second stop will look at optimising soil management to maximise grass production. The considerable variation of yields from paddock to paddock seen across the GrassCheck farms will be highlighted and strategies to optimise the use of artificial fertiliser examined.

The third stop will look at infrastructure needed to successfully set up a grazing rotation for maximising utilisation of grass. This will include how to set up a simple low-cost paddock system.

The final stop will look at how to optimise livestock performance from grazed grass. This will highlight the results of recent AFBI research and indicate how to maintain healthy cattle at grass.

The farm walk will be held on Wednesday 1st May 2019 at 2pm on the farm of Harold and Philip Truesdale, 24 Lighthouse Road, Ballyward, Castlewellan, County Down, BT31 9UB. The farm walk will last approximately two hours.

In the interests of biosecurity those attending are asked to wear clean clothing not previously worn while in direct contact with their own animals. Outdoor work boots should not be worn. Protective overalls and footwear will be provided.

More information on the event can be found on at www.agrisearch.org or contact: Elizabeth Earle on 028 9268 1514.