Finally there is some settled weather forecasted for this weekend and into early next week along with a rise in soil temperatures. Challenging weather over the last seven days has seen many return to on/off grazing and in some cases stock being housed full-time.

The average growth rate on farms recording grass measurements on PastureBase Ireland (PBI) for last week was 14kg DM/ha/day and is predicted to rise considerably this week. The first map “grass growth measurement”, shows the average growth rate for each county as recorded on PBI.

The “predicted grass growth” map is generated from farms involved in Elodie Ruelle’s MoSt grass growth model. This shows the predicted grass growth over the next seven days. The MoSt grass growth model is based on weather conditions and management.

At this time of year, nitrogen (N) fertiliser application as well as pre- and post-grazing sward height are management decisions that can affect growth.

Spread between 35 and 46 units/ac of N in the coming days if you do not have any spread to date. Those who spread slurry using low-emission slurry spreading equipment earlier in the year at 2,500gals/ac have 20-25units/ac nitrogen out. Many have since followed with 23-35 units/ac of bagged nitrogen and will top this up to 70 units/ac for the beginning of April.

Achieving target residuals of 4cm can be challenging as ground conditions in places are poor after last week’s rain. On/off grazing, spur roadways and backing fences should be used to keep grass in the diet while reducing damage.

  • Spread 35-46 units of nitrogen per acre if you do not have any fertiliser out yet. Target 70 units of N/ac by early April.
  • Once you have 30% grazed do a grass walk and set up a spring rotation planner to ensure you divide out the remaining 70%.
  • A grass budget will determine grass availability and whether supplementation is required in order to speed up or slow down the first rotation.
  • Monitor average farm cover; don’t let it go below 550kg DM/ha.
  • When the first paddocks grazed are getting to 1,200kg DM/ha it is time to start the second round.
  • If you are behind target remove silage from the diet to increase demand and get ground grazed
  • Caroline Sullivan

    Teagasc Curtins Farm, Co Cork

    With all the rain last week the cows were out every day and brought in every night between 8pm and 9pm. We usually finish milking around 4.30pm, so they were getting four to five hours grazing and we did not give them silage when they came back into the shed. We have 64% of the farm grazed. During the wet weather last week having multiple access points into each paddock really helped avoid doing too much damage. This week cows will be going into heavy covers which will slow us down a bit. We are feeding 2kg of nuts in the parlour and cal mag is going through the water. Cows are milking very well and SCC is currently 79.