After a prolonged period, growth rates are finally predicted to rise in this coming week. So far, weekly growth has only been in the 30s and 40s, but this week it is predicted to rise into the mid-60s.

For most, this is quite welcome and well needed. Especially for the more intensive systems, where demand will hold between the mid 50s to 60 for the main grazing season.

Some farms have not yet reached ‘magic day’ as we head for the second week of May, a whole month behind their usual growth rates.

Farms are getting very tight in many areas, with many feeding up to 7kg of meal in the parlour, while other farms in the southeast in parts of Wexford and Wicklow are still battling to get to grass, with some not yet finished the first rotation.

For a farmer with a demand of 15kg DM/ha above their growth rates, this will mean a drop of 105kg DM/ha off their average farm cover each week.

These farms will need to try and hold demand where it is, or potentially drop it to build covers again, even with the growth predictions for next week.

Farms are still behind on nitrogen spread this year. In many cases, there is a full round of fertiliser missing out of the norm.

A lot of farmers have about half the grazing platform spread with slurry. These paddocks are thriving better than the rest in most cases.

Where no slurry has been applied yet, consider compound fertilisers and include sulphur. Check with your adviser for chemical fertiliser allowances before making a decision.


  • Get out and walk the farm this week. Growths will improve, and you need to know where the farm is at.
  • Mark out what paddocks have >20% clover content and plan to reduce nitrogen on these paddocks soon.
  • Match growth and demand to ensure quality grass for cows.
  • Many wetter farms are on second rotation now. Use this time to correct poorly grazed paddocks in the spring.
  • Farmers

    Conor Creedon – Rathmore, Co Kerry

    We are on an elevated farm here, and it was wet up until this week. Covers are ok, and we are sitting around 180kg DM/cow. Growth is matching demand at the moment, so things are looking up.

    Cows are back three litres or so from where they would usually be at this point.

    They probably won’t get it back at this stage of lactation. We have planned to do some reseeding, but it has been too wet up until now.

    I’m following cows with 19 units of protected urea and sulphur. I think I’ll spread one round of 29-0-15. Paddocks that got slurry are growing well, so I think K would do no harm.

    Stocking Rate (cow/ha) 4.0

    Growth Rate (kg/day) 60

    Cover per cow (kg/Luc) 180

    Yield (l/cow) 22

    Fat% 4.20

    Protein% 3.60

    Milk Solids (kg/cow) 1.7

    Concentrates 4kg

    Ned O’Brien – Mitchelstown, Co Cork

    I’m transitioning into organics, so this is my first year not spreading any nitrogen on the farm. Grass is tight, and while some of this is down to the lack of nitrogen, the continued spell of cold weather has left grass looking hungry.

    I measure soil temperature every week, and this week was the first where it reached 11 degrees.

    Hopefully growth will begin to pick up in the coming week. Dry ground is doing ok, but wetter, colder fields are struggling.

    I’m also milking once a day now, so yields are back a lot compared to last year. That being said, this year’s spring is still having quite a big impact.

    Stocking Rate (cow/ha) 3.16

    Growth Rate (kg/day) 37

    Average Farm Cover (kg/ha) 512

    Yield (l/cow) 16

    Fat% 4.93

    Protein% 3.57

    Milk Solids (kg/cow) 1.36

    Concentrates 1kg

    Stephen O’Keefe – Killmallock, Co Limerick

    We have had cows on 36-hour allocations for the past ten days or so. Grazing conditions have been improving quickly, so we are jumping into lighter covers on the heavier parts of the farm to tidy them up.

    We are going to take out two heavy paddocks for bales over the weekend, and cows are heading into covers of 1,500kg DM/ha.

    So far this year we have spread 50kgN/ha on the grazing platform. We are planning to blanket spread 21 units/acre of U.A.S this month.

    Breeding is going well so far, with 39% submitted for AI. We began breeding on 1 May.

    Stocking Rate (cow/ha) 3.7

    Growth Rate (kg/day) 42

    Average Farm Cover (kg/ha) 731

    Yield (l/cow) 20.1

    Fat% 4.34

    Protein% 3.49

    Milk Solids (kg/cow) 1.62

    Concentrates 3kg