As we enter the month of May, grazing conditions have dramatically improved, but growth rates are still lagging behind the norm. Based on the five-year average, growth rates are back 20% this year.

There are a few tricky, unsettled days ahead, but the forecast shows an expected improvement in the next week. Many farms are now at peak demand, with silage ground out and some reseeding in the mix. Growth rates are not likely to rise to mid-50s for another week, so matching demand to these growth rates is important to avoid running into deficit.

Target supplementation to keep the average farm cover above 550kg DM/ha and aim to keep cover per cow between 180kg and 220kg DM/ha. Beef farms should be looking to stay 15 days ahead.

Farmers should start to get back into the routine of walking the farm once a week. There was a lot of nitrogen spread in the past two weeks, both chemical and slurry.

With stubborn growth rates, there is going to be a burst of growth just around the corner.

The improvement in ground conditions is giving an opportunity to follow cows with slurry after grazing.

There will be a good response rate now to slurry as paddocks that haven’t got slurry all spring are looking hungry.

Spreading at a rate of 1,500-2,000 gallons per acre is working well when spread with low-emission slurry-spreading (LESS) equipment, as it won’t affect palatability and graze-outs in the following round.

Many farms had paddocks picked out for reseeding for April, but due to weather conditions, had to postpone. However, if weather and growth rates take off in May, this is still possible.


  • Stay up to date with slurry and fertiliser, following cows with 2,000 gallons of slurry and 25kg N/ha of chemical.
  • Get back in the routine of walking the farm every week to keep control of grass.
  • Growth rates remain low for the next week, with improvements to follow.
  • It is not too late for reseeding and oversowing if May weather allows.
  • Farmers

    Donal Patton – Teagasc Ballyhaise, Co Cavan

    Conditions improved a lot in the past week. We moved cows to 24hr paddocks, but since Sunday we’ve had to move them back to 12-hour breaks because of the rain. Conditions were good, but it doesn’t take much to set them back.

    Cows are in covers of 1,300kg at the moment. Things are tight, but the forecast is looking good, so we should be okay. We haven’t started following the cows yet with fertiliser, but we plan on going with 30 units of protected urea + S.

    Silage ground hasn’t got slurry, but it has got two units of nitrogen per day and matched that with K. There is no P allowance on the farm here.

    Stocking Rate (cow/ha) 3.4

    Growth Rate (kg/day) 46

    Average Farm Cover (kg/ha) 576

    Yield (l/cow) 25.4

    Fat% 4.84

    Protein% 3.45

    Milk Solids (kg/cow) 2.17

    Concentrates 4kg

    Niall Callanan – Craughwell, Co Galway

    We finished the first round on 8 April and there’s about a week left in the second round. Cows are heading into covers of about 1,300kg DM/ha.

    We’ll just about hold grass in front of cows, growth rates are at 50 and demand is 46, with a cover per cow of 162kg DM/LU, so we should be okay.

    We blanket-spread the farm on Monday with fertiliser and we’re following the cows after grazing with 2,500 gallons of slurry. We plan on cutting silage on 20 May. Its all on an outblock and has got 70 units and slurry.

    A paddock was sprayed off two weeks ago for reseeding. We’ll spread FYM on it now, disc it and set it with a guttler.

    Stocking Rate (cow/ha) 3.28

    Growth Rate (kg/day) 50

    Average Farm Cover (kg/ha) 530

    Yield (l/cow) 25.5

    Fat% 4.13

    Protein% 3.6

    Milk Solids (kg/cow) 1.97

    Concentrates 3kg

    Niall Moloney – Crecora, Co Limerick

    We’re about two thirds of the way through the second rotation. We have enough grass, but growth is still only reasonable. There were a couple of frosty mornings, so I’ll continue feeding 4kg of meal for now.

    Most of the farm has got 60 units of nitrogen to the acre to date, and also got 3,000 gallons of slurry back in January, excluding some wetter parts of the farm. I will follow the cows grazing now with protected urea and sulphur.

    I sprayed off peat ground for reseeding and we’ll spread farmyard manure. It won’t be ploughed, but depending on the availability of the contractor, we’ll try to give it two runs of a power-harrow.

    Stocking Rate (cow/ha) 3.44

    Growth Rate (kg/day) 44

    Average Farm Cover (kg/ha) 745

    Yield (l/cow) 27.4

    Fat% 4.05

    Protein% 3.41

    Milk Solids (kg/cow) 2.04

    Concentrates 4kg