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Thread: Zero grazing

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    Zero grazing

    Thinking of going down this route, but unsure of what size of a zero grazer machine to buy. Does anybody know approximately how many cubic metres of grass would it take to feed 100 dairy cows daily? Should I look at a big machine that can feed 100 cows in one load, or go for a smaller machine that would be easier on wet land but would mean doing more loads of grass possibly twice a day

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    Senior Member LALANS's Avatar
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    Re: Zero grazing

    Quote Originally Posted by Turboman View Post
    Thinking of going down this route, but unsure of what size of a zero grazer machine to buy. Does anybody know approximately how many cubic metres of grass would it take to feed 100 dairy cows daily? Should I look at a big machine that can feed 100 cows in one load, or go for a smaller machine that would be easier on wet land but would mean doing more loads of grass possibly twice a day
    I have to ask the question 'Why?'
    Do the sums stack up? Remembering that you are adding another job into your schedule.
    I assume your cows have good legs and can walk.

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    Senior Member JimF's Avatar
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    Re: Zero grazing

    The odd one or two people around here that do it find on wet days you bring in half a trailer load of water in with the grass. Don't mean to be negative, just pointing out one or two things to watch out for.

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    Re: Zero grazing

    Put it in the silage pit at 30%DM and feed that. I would think its as hard as grazing your cows efficiently and making them eat wet grass in the rain and always keeping it at the perfect growth stage.

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    Re: Zero grazing

    Silage is hellish expensive to make and will struggle to get M.E. and protein values any were near grazed grass. I do have a reasonably good laneway to the grazing platform and still Intend grazing cows out. But given the weather patterns of recent years to minimize compaction I would consider housing cows temporary during bad weather. Yes there may be alot of water harvested with the grass at times but we don't always get ideal weather for silage either and some years silage is only 18% DM and that has to last most of the winter. Been looking at a few 2nd hand zero grazers as I think it may be more cost effective than having to prematurely resseed fields due to excessive poaching. Now back to my original question, what size of zero grazer to go for?

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    Re: Zero grazing

    I find in reality there are not that many days when it rains all day. Even the wettest of days it pitches off for a hour or two. Quantity wise my old mengele Lw330 will feed 60/65 big hungary holstein cows for 24 hours thats with no blades in so not rammed in tight.. by that calculation you need a 50m3 wagon which is quite big.

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    Re: Zero grazing

    Just be careful with second hand machines. Guy in our area bought one last year and had no end of bother with it. I mean each and every week until he parked it up. When it was going though, it was doing a good job. You might need more weight in front of it than you expect though. Its not a big machine by any means, but at one wet stage in mid summer, he hitched off the TM130 and put the 6080 onto it for grip. Another option which is undoubtedly a more expensive way in is mower on the front of the tractor and a silage wagon. That way you are getting a good strong wagon that you can also do your own silage with too. Thats what we do. Just a thought. If you aren't set up for doing silage though, its a major leap to get into it.

  8. #8

    Re: Zero grazing

    We bought an ancient krone specifically for zero grazing.

    A few years before we ran a torro 4500 and 5100 which even with flotation Tyres; still was heavy in wet going.

    Being able to mow and collect far away grass should extend our platform.

    This autumn we didn't have any decent grass for the cows as the purchase was last minute; but this spring time will tell if we see a lift in yields.

    One thing was the cows were scuttering like mad on the wet grass. Total opposite now on arable mix.

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    Re: Zero grazing

    I would be inclined to buy a grass wagon, front mower on , wagon on, job done and will make your silage as well, all in one package. Grass wagons are so much stronger built than zero grazing setups and of course more multi-purpose. Depends on so many things though.

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    Re: Zero grazing

    I try not to bring in wet grass as it affects intakes, so I keep an eye on weather forecast, always looking to get the grass cut dry before the rain comes in, be that in the morning or early evening or if it gives full days rain I go the night before, grass tends to heat quick but can be still fed 12 hours after cutting

  11. #11

    Re: Zero grazing

    Quote Originally Posted by Turboman View Post
    Thinking of going down this route, but unsure of what size of a zero grazer machine to buy. Does anybody know approximately how many cubic metres of grass would it take to feed 100 dairy cows daily? Should I look at a big machine that can feed 100 cows in one load, or go for a smaller machine that would be easier on wet land but would mean doing more loads of grass possibly twice a day
    U talking about feeding the cows ration as all grass or part of the ration as grass? If its the 2nd of the two options, then you'd need far less per day obviously and that may influence your choice of machine??

    If it was the whole forage part of the ration to be grass, then 12Kg of Dry Matter of grass @ 15% DM is going to be 80Kg/head, 20% DM would be 60Kg etc, etc.
    Would be struggling to tell you cubic volumes mind you, but your feed company or the internet will have them.

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    Senior Member LALANS's Avatar
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    Re: Zero grazing

    Quote Originally Posted by Turboman View Post
    Thinking of going down this route, but unsure of what size of a zero grazer machine to buy. Does anybody know approximately how many cubic metres of grass would it take to feed 100 dairy cows daily? Should I look at a big machine that can feed 100 cows in one load, or go for a smaller machine that would be easier on wet land but would mean doing more loads of grass possibly twice a day
    Make sure you get oversize tyres whatever size of machine you chose plus always reserve a dry part for cutting on really wet days. All the best and let us know how you get on. Theoretically you should be able to utilise more grass which could mean more stock or lower feed costs or higher yield with hopefully more cash in your back pocket after expenses.

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    Re: Zero grazing

    Im thinking of having the whole ration grass with some nuts in the parlour. that way if the cows have to be housed in wet weather their diet isnt changing, the cows will simply be housed instead being turned out to graze. Im told cows do skitter more in zero grass but surely it cant be that much worse than lush grass that is grazed in wet weather?

    The idea of using a front mower and and a silage wagon to lift the grass does sound appealing but my main concern would be the tines picking up wet clay soil as well. For those of you who are zero grazing this way is soil contamination an issue in wet conditions?

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    Re: Zero grazing

    its not an issue for me, the grass is freshly cut so the swath is sitting up a bit any how, just adjust the pick up tines to lift the grass clean and no more.

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    Re: Zero grazing

    Quote Originally Posted by Turboman View Post
    Im thinking of having the whole ration grass with some nuts in the parlour. that way if the cows have to be housed in wet weather their diet isnt changing, the cows will simply be housed instead being turned out to graze. Im told cows do skitter more in zero grass but surely it cant be that much worse than lush grass that is grazed in wet weather?

    The idea of using a front mower and and a silage wagon to lift the grass does sound appealing but my main concern would be the tines picking up wet clay soil as well. For those of you who are zero grazing this way is soil contamination an issue in wet conditions?
    you might of seen this before. the kids did this clip on their phone. end of june 2012 the wet summer of hell!! Everyone else was bringing their cows in doors and feeding silage i cut every day right through. as you can see not ideal weather. soil never a problem. cheap front mower and even cheaper wagon off ebay. Grass was plenty long enough and I wanted to get on and do second cut silage but it wouldn't stop raining. If i remenber right i did it a few days after this video.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckG0Z8SR6TM

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    Re: Zero grazing

    Quote Originally Posted by happycows View Post
    you might of seen this before. the kids did this clip on their phone. end of june 2012 the wet summer of hell!! Everyone else was bringing their cows in doors and feeding silage i cut every day right through. as you can see not ideal weather. soil never a problem. cheap front mower and even cheaper wagon off ebay. Grass was plenty long enough and I wanted to get on and do second cut silage but it wouldn't stop raining. If i remenber right i did it a few days after this video.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckG0Z8SR6TM
    How long does it take to fill and do you feed any other forage /roughage /concentrates down the barrier , finaly how often do you put it out ? I currently use round bale silage in the summer as a buffer to grazed grass , but due to being lower protien/energy than fresh grass I put about 1kg of cereal with it ,so I always wonder whether I should be saving money by getting into zero grazing, on the flip side I can make tmr with silage last a couple of days without heating and thus reduce labour over weekend and busy periods/holidays , do you find visits dropping off if the grass is very lush ?

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    Re: Zero grazing

    I try to avoid very lush grass and it is a everyday job. I'm always mindful of ndf and butterfats. I fed grass with bales for the first and last few weeks. 6 months then nothing but grass for the milkers bar a couple of times i put a little soya hulls down the trough when it was wet. Dry cows have some baled silage and grass for the last 3 weeks before calving and a couple of kgs of drycow blend. That was one pass up the field and it took 3 or 4 passes to fill it depending on the amount of grass. probably 15 minutes cutting and half hour job from start to finish.
    Last edited by happycows; 11-01-14 at 09:02 PM.

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    Re: Zero grazing

    Turbo man, did you ever venture down the zero grazing root after?

    Just considering the idea of it with the cows out and making a right mess and not grazing as tidy as i would like. Plus with the robots still needing to provide a buffer just makes them even fussier grazers.

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    Re: Zero grazing

    The cost of buying the equipment and running it daily are nearly irrelevant when you consider the savings in terms of milk from forage.

    In one article in the British dairy farmer mag I happened to notice one guy saved 60K in feed costs in one year alone- you can buy a new wagon, PTO and front mower with that kind of saving very quickly. So you need another 2 man hours per day, who gives a monkeys if you are keeping that feed lorry off the farm more often? And isn't that what dairy farmers are supposed to be doing anyway rather than relying on imported and expensive feed stuffs when they should be growing as much as they can themselves?

    Of course silage is always going to be more expensive to make and an inherently lower quality feed than fresh grass, there is no point in making silage if you can graze that same material in whatever fashion.

    I have a robot customer who is strongly considering this option- with land spread around the farm and not all of it within walking distance, can we make use of this grass better and grow maize and wholecrop on the remainder?

  20. #20
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    Re: Zero grazing

    I bought my very first round baler for zero grazing. Other farm had grass in autumn and home was short so I cut and baled and carried it home to the cows. Yhe alternative was to make silage of it and feed spring silage to them. Baler cost me a grand already had the mower and they fed off the bale trailer at neck height. No fancy kit at all.

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    Re: Zero grazing

    I recommend a Bonino like mine
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Re: Zero grazing

    Quote Originally Posted by Chippy View Post
    I recommend a Bonino like mine
    That looks just the business.

    I would say however that you look to be cutting your grass a touch low.

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    Re: Zero grazing

    Yeh that was first week I got it 2 years ago. Been cutting longer ever since

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    Re: Zero grazing

    @chippy what size is the bonino? how many cows does it feed comfortably in 24hrs? whos your dealer and a rough price? sorry for the questions and what advantages and disadvantages's have you personally found with the system?

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    Re: Zero grazing

    Zero grazing has seem to become a popular activity here in Ireland and a number of companies manufacturing specifically built machines.
    It is something we are considering due to limited amount of owned grazing ground around the parlour but have ample amount of owned ground within 2 miles.

    I suppose it is the usually cons that have held us back i.e cost of the machine, labour requirement of another job that has to be done everyday including additional slurry spreading.
    We would intend to graze by day and house by night on the zero grazed grass.

    I would be interested to hear for those that took the plunge and went down the zero-grazing route and if they had the choice of being able to rent ground around the parlour (at a high rate) or continue zero grazing on owned ground away from the parlour which would they do.

    Thanks.

  26. #26
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    Re: Zero grazing

    What's your ground and rainfall?

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    Re: Zero grazing

    Quote Originally Posted by DairyFarmer111 View Post
    What's your ground and rainfall?
    In the East of Ireland so rainfall relatively low compared to some parts of the country. Land would be dry capable of accommodating a zero grazer into late October and from January (depending on the year obviously)

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