It’s gone in to May and grass growth and ground conditions are nothing to write home about. While farms are doing ok as regards grass supply, this is only due to a bank of grass being there from a delay in getting grazing this year. PastureBase Ireland figures for drystock farms show that average growth is only just exceeding demand (37kg DM/ha growth vs. demand 36kg DM/ha)

However, farms are perfectly poised to kick off from a growth point of view. Fertiliser has gone out and a lot of ground has been grazed.

Soil temperatures have remained stubbornly low at 9 or 10°C, but with the longer days a sunny and warm period will act as the perfect catalyst to kick growth in to top gear.

Some farms have obviously been grazing heavy covers this spring and were unable to clean them out.

You have the choice to do one of two things with these; either earmark them for baling or to go in the pit alongside first cut, or go in to these covers at 1,000-1,100kg DM/ha and grazed them out tight. The first option is the most preferred, provided you have the capacity to take the paddock out.


Ger McSweeney – Milstreet, Co Cork

Ground conditions are still very tricky at the moment. With cows coming in to heat, paddocks can get blackened very quickly, so it’s a matter of back-fencing and keeping stock moved on. Heifers are on the second rotation now while cows are finishing off the last of the first round.

I had debated mowing out some paddocks earlier, but I’m glad I didn’t now as growth is very slow on grazed paddocks. What has a grass cover is growing fine but regrowths are slow.

I only grazed about 30% of the silage ground this year, meaning there is a good cover of grass on this, and with a bit of heat this should really take off. It received 80 units of N and 95 units of K, as I was unable to spread much slurry this year.

System Suckler to beef

Soil Type Variable

Farm cover (kg/DM/ha) 984

Growth (kg/DM/ha/day) 39

Demand (kg/DM/ha/day) 51

Trevor Boland – Dromard, Co Sligo

Weanling and in-calf heifers are out a number of weeks now, with all cows now at grass. The in-calf and weanling heifers are grazing the out block, with bulls and autumn calving cows at home.

I have 14 days of grass ahead of stock on both blocks, but ground is slow to bounce back. Cows are grazing out paddocks tight and will do so for the summer to keep them from becoming over-fat.

Bulls will hopefully be weighed and dosed over the weekend.

Fertiliser on silage ground is out since early April, with the plan being to cut for round bales sometime in mid-May. Slurry and SulCAN were spread, with ground receiving 80 units of N. While overall growth isn’t brilliant, the silage ground is moving along nicely.

System Suckler to weanling

Soil Type Variable

Farm cover (kg/DM/ha) 715

Growth (kg/DM/ha/day) 39

Demand (kg/DM/ha/day) 47

Rian Kennedy – Aclare, Co Sligo

Both grazing ground and silage ground has received a round of fertiliser. Our silage ground intended for high quality bales for youngstock received 90 units of protected urea in mid-April and will hopefully be cut in late May.

Silage destined for dry cows received a compound fertiliser with sulphur at a similar rate.

Grass is slowly starting to grow and we are hitting pre-grazing yields of 1,300kg-1,400kg DM/ha.

With ground conditions improving, we are hoping to hit some of our lower fertility paddocks with some farmyard manure post-grazing.

Clover in our reseeded paddocks is now kicking into gear, so we will hopefully be able ease back on chemical N.

System Suckler to beef

Soil Type Variable

Farm cover (kg/DM/ha) 730

Growth (kg/DM/ha/day) 35

Demand (kg/DM/ha/day) 32