Early mowed crops of first cut were less affected by the drought that ensued compared to those mown two to three weeks later. The ability to get slurry and fertiliser back on to these swards, before the moisture deficit hit badly, allowed them to green up and get growing.
Although bulk might be lacking in these swards, some farmers have opted to mow them out as they have gone to stem ahead of when would be expected.
Care should be taken when mowing these swards regarding nitrogen content of the grass. If growth rates were severely impeded the past few weeks and the normal rate of N (70-80 units) was applied then there could be a lot of nitrogen still remaining in grass leaves. A lot of the intense sunshine we saw in early and mid-June is gone, meaning the likelihood of wilting grass to remove this excess nitrogen is greatly reduced.
First cut crops were high quality for the most part, so there is little point in chasing quality in the second cut and sacrificing poor preservation through excess nitrogen in the sward.
When second cut is mowed out, it may also present a good opportunity to remove some ‘dirty’ paddocks that have a good deal of stem in them, provided that growth allows it.
The quality of grass in these paddocks likely isn’t top quality, so if you are pitting grass there is little value lost in getting these tipped in alongside second cut as opposed to baling them out.
William Treacy – Hackballscross, Co Louth
Despite only getting 25mm of rain, growth has benefited from the moisture, with all paddocks beginning to green up again.
I have roughly 78ac of silage ground allocated for second cut which received 2,000-2,5000gal/ac of slurry after first cut through the use of a trailing shoe.
During the hot spell the trailing shoe was beneficial in allowing me to get the most out of the slurry without burning the grass and heavy showers then helped to wash it in.
The cows follow the other cattle in the rotation to clean up the stemmy grasses left behind. I baled some strong paddocks and had to supplement with silage for a week.
I had been zero grazing but the grass had gone strong and the cattle were leaving behind a lot of stem.
System Suckler to finishing
Soil Type Free draining
Farm cover (kg/DM/ha) 804
Growth (kg/DM/ha/day) 45
Demand (kg/DM/ha/day) 82
John Hally – Thrive Farm, Co Tipperary
We hope to lift 20ac of second cut silage this week, including some paddocks that have gone too strong. I have received around 25mm of rain which has allowed the fields to green up.
I had to graze 20ac of second cut silage just to keep grass in front of the cattle, but I am managing well. The topping of paddocks has helped get nice clean grass covers on the fields, while I also pre-mowed during the hot spell.
The cattle enjoyed the pre-mowed grass, especially when it got a wilt on it. I haven’t used any fertiliser for a while, but I have been applying the last of the slurry on the fields with a dribble bar, and the recent showers proved beneficial in washing it into the soil.
System Dairy beef
Soil Type Free draining
Farm cover (kg/DM/ha) 602
Growth (kg/DM/ha/day) 70
Demand (kg/DM/ha/day) 51
Trevor Boland – Dromard, Co Sligo
We have seen a nice amount of rain,which was needed to get grass back ahead of the cattle. They are very content, as they have moved into nicer grass. The grazing ground has had two bags/ac of 18-6-12 after grazing, and I have also gotten my silage ground spread.
I have gone with a mixture of 18-6-12 along with some protected urea and it is well underway for second cut. I have been happy with the clean outs in paddocks, although I may start topping after 1 July.
The aim is to build covers for the cattle with lots of clover beginning to appear in the grazing swards since the rain arrived. My growth has increased to within the region of 50-60 compared to the figures below.
System Suckler to beef
Soil Type Mostly dry
Farm cover (kg/DM/ha) 430
Growth (kg/DM/ha/day) 31
Demand (kg/DM/ha/day) 49