21 June 2023 is when the weather broke in north Mayo last summer and, since then - a full 12 months later - the weather has been a constant battle for farmers and animals alike.

Even writing this, the heatwave that was supposedly promised for next week seems to fade further into the distance every time a weather app opens, with each click sending the average temperature down by a further degree or two.

Farmers are in a varying state regarding grass growth and supply at the minute.

Farms stocked at a relatively heavy rate have been getting by supplementing with 4kg of ration in the parlour, with sometimes 2kg of silage thrown in along a barrier at milking time.

Paddocks went very stemmy this year at relatively low covers, resulting in a good deal of topping being completed, which seems to have pinched farmers stocked at medium to low levels, with the resultant regrowth described as exceptionally poor.


No one I have been talking to is in deep trouble, but with peak milk supply past (and at a reduced rate this year) and cows nicely into breeding, it’s a case of trying to feed cows and keep them content without busting the bank.

A pinch in energy intake could spell disaster in the long run for breeding.

Where farms are tight on silage supplies, it will make more sense to supplement milking cows now with concentrates than it will topping up dry cows in the winter due to a lack of silage.

Grazing second cut

Where there is a serious lack of grass on farm, many farmers may be wondering between feeding silage or grazing some second-cut ground.

In the vast majority of cases, grazing the second cut will make more sense financially, as making bales hugely increases the cost per kg of dry matter going into animals.

Simply put, it doesn’t make sense to feed bales in order to save grass to make bales again. You’re robbing Peter to pay Paul by doing this. However, this shortfall on second cut will have to be filled at another stage.

In any case, paddocks should be kept up to date with fertiliser, with 0.8 to 1 unit/day being spread, with high clover content paddocks receiving half this.

Grass growth has risen over the last week and will hopefully continue to do so, so the last thing we want right now is for grass to be stressed for nitrogen.