Grass growth has had a sluggish start this July, although there has been a slight improvement compared to the previous month. Growth rates across the country are still poor for the time of year averaging only 54 kg DM/ha.

PastureBase figures for the first six months show Irish farmers are 1.2 tonne DM/ha behind the five-year average. Farmers who are measuring on PastureBase have grown on average 5.1 tonne of DM/ha year to date compared to the five-year average of 6.3 tonne of DM/ha to 1 July.

Growth rates for the next 7 days are positive, with mid- to high 60s expected for large parts of the country. It is essential to continue to walk your farm and reduce supplementation when cover per livestock unit is greater than 200.

Mid-season targets are to have a farm cover greater than 600kg DM/ha and greater than 170kg per livestock unit, with a rotation length between 21 and 25 days and keeping your pre grazing yield greater than 1,200 kg DM/ha.


Grass quality is still a challenge on many farms, with a lot of seed heads and stem present on grazing swards.

A lot of farmers are noticing that due to the dry and cold weather, covers are heading to seed around covers of 1,100-1,200 kg DM/Ha.

If there’s second cut silage growing on the milking platform and if it’s an option to graze, I would be inclined to graze rather than feeding high rates of meal or silage.

A bounce in grass growth will come eventually, and when it does, surpluses will appear allowing for the mechanical fixing of paddocks.

Sward watch

  • Recent rain and high pressure forecast towards the end of the week should see improvement in growth rates.
  • Continue to walk your farm and reduce supplement when cover/LU is greater than 200.
  • With a lot of silage being fed on farms over the last month or so, a fodder budget should be done ASAP to identify potential deficits in winter feed.
  • Farmers

    William Dennehy – Currow, Co Kerry

    The farm has grown 6.5 tonnes of grass to date. Growth rate the last week was poor at 44 kg DM/ha, which I’m putting down to a low soil temperature.

    The farm was on a 15-day rotation a few weeks back. This as well as having taken out surplus paddocks for bales has left grass quality in a very good place, with only one paddock to be corrected.

    Twenty units of potash have been spread this week on all clover paddocks as well as any paddock that needed it from my last soil test results. But in general, my grass paddocks are receiving a unit of nitrogen a day, with clover paddocks receiving 15 units post-grazing.

    Stocking Rate (cow/ha) 3.37

    Growth Rate (kg/day) 44

    Average Farm Cover (kg/cow) 241

    Yield (l/cow) 19

    Fat% 4.44

    Protein% 3.63

    Milk Solids (kg/cow) 1.58

    Concentrates 3.6

    Richard and Gearoid Hinchion – Crookstown, Co Cork

    We expect a big bounce in growth after the rain that has fallen since the weekend. We’re feeding 4kg of concentrate but hope to cut it back to 2kg towards the weekend.

    A few paddocks are stemmy and stressed, but we have after grass from our first cut silage coming back into the wedge.

    There are only a few days left in our 2024 breeding as we have entered our eleventh week.

    We AI’d our cows for over 10 weeks with the aid of our cow collars and left bulls off for the last week to 10 days. Heats the past week have been quiet, much to the disappointment of the bulls.

    Stocking Rate (cow/ha) 3.7

    Growth Rate (kg/day) 58

    Average Farm Cover (kg/cow) 156

    Yield (l/cow) 22

    Fat% 4.42

    Protein% 3.75

    Milk Solids (kg/cow) 1.85

    Concentrates 4

    Eoin Corrigan – Trim, Co Meath

    Growth was very slow throughout June, and at one point, we had to supplement with nearly 6kg of silage.

    Twenty acres of second cut silage on the milking platform were brought back into the rotation about two weeks ago. This allowed us to extend our rotation to 25 days helping to build our cover per cow back up.

    We over-sowed 10% of the farm with white clover in early May, but the lack of moisture has caused it to fail.

    We’re finishing up our breeding today at the end of our tenth week. Early scan results indicate we have 60% of our cows calving in the first three weeks.

    Stocking Rate (cow/ha) 3.6

    Growth Rate (kg/day) 68

    Average Farm Cover (kg/cow) 209

    Yield (l/cow) 22

    Fat% 4.77

    Protein% 3.78

    Milk Solids (kg/cow) 1.94

    Concentrates 3