Average grass growth this week is 71kg/day, which is significantly higher than the 10 year average.

While this is good news for farmers in the east and south, it’s little consolation to those in the northwest of the country struggling after a week of record high rainfall levels. Malin Head in Donegal recorded 77mm of rain on Tuesday alone. Other parts of the western seaboard will have got similar levels of rain over a number of days.

On/off grazing, 12 hour breaks and back-fencing should all be employed. On very heavy farms there will be no choice but to house cows for a few days until land dries out.

Elsewhere, there are many farms growing in excess of 100kg/day. This is presenting its own problems, as taking out surplus paddocks at this time of year is not ideal.

Subsequent growth from cut paddocks will be poor, but if farm cover or pre-grazing yields are too high it is better to cut out surplus paddocks sooner rather than later.

To be a small bit ahead of target is no harm. If you need to cut out paddocks, be a bit conservative and leave some surplus just in case growth drops unexpectedly. If weather is too wet to cut, consider grazing the field with other stock but make sure they graze it in one or two days.

Clean outs haven’t been great over the past week and many farmers are using the topper to bring down dung pads. It is very counterproductive to be wasting grass at a time of the year that you want to be building up grass. As rotation lengths increase, the grass in dung pads becomes more palatable and, while quality might not be great, it will still be better than feeding silage when these paddocks are grazed again in late September or October.

In brief

  • Excellent growth rates on average but heavy rain in many parts is making grazing difficult.
  • Use on/off grazing, back-fencing and 12-hour breaks to avoid doing damage.
  • Target average farm cover is between 280 and 300kg/cow.
  • Shane Leane

    Teagasc Curtins, Co Cork

    Stocking rate (cows/ha) 2.95

    Growth rate (kg/day) 43

    Average farm cover (kg/cow) 255

    Yield (l/cow/day) 17.9

    Fat % 4.91

    Protein % 4.09

    Milk solids (kg/cow) 1.66

    Supplement fed (kg/cow/day) 4

    Pre-grazing yields are 1,400kg and, while average farm cover is increasing, we are behind target and growth rate is only slightly ahead of demand so we are back in feeding 4kg of meal per cow. We have had a good bit of rain but ground conditions are perfect and cleanout is good. We are on 24- to 36-hour grazings depending on the size of the paddock. Rotation length is 28 days. We scanned last week and 10.7% were empty after 11.5 weeks of breeding. The six-week in-calf rate is 79%. We will do a final scan in September.

    Donal Patton

    Teagasc Ballyhaise, Co Cavan

    Stocking rate (cows/ha) 3.44

    Growth rate (kg/day) 76

    Average farm cover (kg/cow) 270

    Yield (l/cow/day) 16.05

    Fat % 4.59

    Protein % 3.82

    Milk solids (kg/cow) 1.39

    Supplement fed (kg/cow/day) 1

    We have had the world of rain over the past week and the low parts of the farm are now wet and sticky. We had to move out of one paddock as too much damage was being done. In general we’re coping OK as we have drier land to graze.

    Pre-grazing yields are around 1,700kg to 1,800kg so quality is still good. We are on 12-hour breaks and feeding 1kg of meal. We are a bit ahead of target in terms of average farm cover but there is nothing we can do about it so we are going to graze everything for the moment.

    Steven Cole

    Aghancon, Birr, Co Offaly

    Stocking rate (cows/ha) 2.41

    Growth rate (kg/day) 45

    Average farm cover (kg/cow) 275

    Yield (l/cow/day) 17.4

    Fat % 4.12

    Protein % 3.57

    Milk solids (kg/cow) 1.38

    Supplement fed (kg/cow/day) 1

    Cows are grazing covers of about 1,700kg which is a little on the high side but we are building covers and cleanout is still good. It’s been a good summer and grass growth is up on this time last year. We are still hoping to reseed eight acres this year. Because we’re at a low enough stocking rate this year we should be OK. We are currently spreading CAN but plan to go with a bag/acre of muriate of potash across the farm in September as potassium levels are low. Rotation length is around 24 days and demand is 41kg.

    Sean O’Donnell

    Ballina, Co Mayo

    Stocking rate (cows/ha) 3.4

    Growth rate (kg/day) 62

    Average farm cover (kg/cow) 246

    Yield (l/cow/day) 19.5

    Fat % 4.66

    Protein % 3.75

    Milk solids (kg/cow) 1.69

    Supplement fed (kg/cow/day) 2

    The weather has been atrocious. Last Monday was a disaster of a day. I’m not measuring rainfall but I know it rained an awful lot and the low parts of the farm are soaked and will take a while to dry out. We’re on 12-hour breaks and back-fencing. Clean out isn’t too bad all things considered but we are grazing the dry parts of the farm.

    If it doesn’t improve by next week I’ll be in trouble. I’d normally be feeding some bale silage around now for 10 days to build up cover but I’m going to hold off until weather improves.

    Read More

    LacPatrick increases milk price

    Monday management: wet weather, sticky ground and poor clean-out

    Read more

    Grass+ beef: rain halts play but settled days coming