Early turnout in spring on a drystock farm

Practice abstract


Grazing infrastructure on the farm of Conor McGrath, Tullamore, Co. Offally (Ireland) such as roadways, paddock size, water trough placement, flow and size, gaps, spur roadways, strip grazing etc. is essential for grazing, especially when conditions are challenging in the spring and autumn. The farmer uses strip grazing on 48 hr grazing bouts in the spring and autumn to avoid damage and to protect regrowth. Early turnout can increase weight gains in the cattle while also saving costs on concentrates and feeding silage, not to mention fixed costs of keeping cattle in the shed. The main aspects of management are:

  • Increased animal performance – high quality diet with minimal supplements
  • Recondition swards for the year ahead – stimulate growth and improve quality
  • Maximise spring grass utilisation & minimise sward decay
  • Reduce workload on the farm
  • Achieve target post-grazing height of 3.5 cm
  • Spring Nitrogen (N) application is essential to boost growth on all paddocks

The motivation of the farmer was to minimise the cost of production. The farmer does this by early turnout in the spring, take silage out of the diet, enter low covers for grazing and by grazing down to a residual of 4 cm. By focusing on grass, the farmers minimise the threat of relying on imported feed.

Main action for the future:

  • Continue to grow as much grass per hectare and maximise production of kg/beef/ha and build a reserve of silage for the farm
  • Grass is the cheapest source of feed on the farm, so continue to focus on it rather than alternative feeds
  • Keep using innovative management practices/grazing infrastructure to extend the grazing season and reduce costs

Abstract also available in:

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Additional information

Farming system

conventional farming

Domains of innovation

grazing management system

Main types of animal

dairy cattle



Product type

Practice abstract



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