The more settled weather and ground conditions are very much welcome by all, and will allow farmers to get paddocks properly grazed out without fear of doing damage to swards.

However, the strong growth rates have also seen pre-grazing yields creep up for some, with PasturBase data from drystock farms indicating pre grazing yields of 1,750kg DM/ha.

At this volume of grass, the energy content won’t be as high as covers of 1,300-1,400kg. Residency periods (the length of time cattle spend in a paddock) will also be longer, with 3-day paddocks pushing into 4-day paddocks, causing the rotation length to increase when we’d rather be looking at a reduced rotation length.

While it isn’t as easy for some drystock farmers to get paddocks baled out regularly compared to their dairy counterparts due to working off smaller paddock sizes, a good option would be to take out some paddocks in long term silage.

This will take reduce the grazing area, reduce the rotation length and hopefully get pre grazing yields back under control.


Derek O’Donoghue – Salesian College, Co Limerick

First cut got under way on Tuesday evening of last week and it was lifted on Thursday. We cut 50% of the farm, which consisted of 26 acres in total including three surplus paddocks that contained strong covers in the region of 2,000kg.

Grass is currently growing really well but we also have the headlands to graze if we need them.

All the silage ground will receive slurry at a rate of 2,000gal/acre in preparation for second cut where we will only harvest 25% of the farm.

Grazing conditions are holding up, with calves causing the most damage to the sward. Grazed paddocks are receiving between 16 to 20 units of protected urea to help promote grass growth.

System Dairy beef

Soil Type Free-draining

Farm cover (kg/DM/ha) 404

Growth (kg/DM/ha/day) 75

Demand (kg/DM/ha/day) 32

John Hally – Thrive Farm, Co Tipperary

The forecast is continuing to look promising, with grass growth well under way. Last week swards were getting soiled by the grazing stock, so it was important to keep the cattle moved on to fresh grass.

I cut 32 acres of first-cut silage on Monday which included some surplus paddocks that had gone too strong for grazing.

It has been tedded out and will be lifted on Wednesday. Slurry will then be on the silage ground.

Paddocks that have been grazed have been receiving 20 units of urea to maintain grass growth.

The cattle will be weighed soon, but I strongly suspect they have had a poor thrive this year due to the poor spring.

System Dairy beef

Soil Type Free-draining

Farm cover (kg/DM/ha) 845

Growth (kg/DM/ha/day) 81

Demand (kg/DM/ha/day) 42

Stephen Frend – Newford Suckler Farm, Co Galway

Silage has started as we took out four paddocks that were baled last week. This ground will receive 18 units of protected urea.

Grazing ground has also been receiving protected urea, with sulphur maintaining grass growth. All the cattle have been out since the beginning of April.

Grass covers under 1,400kg are being grazed, with paddocks measuring above this level being taken out for silage.

We experienced poor grazing conditions during the middle of last week, with poor graze-outs due to the cattle having to be moved. We expect that with the good weather and growth we will be able to get back in and clean them off in two weeks.

System Suckler to beef

Soil Type Free-draining

Farm cover (kg/DM/ha) 888

Growth (kg/DM/ha/day) 82