The Ploughing seems to bring with it extreme weather conditions each year, with the coin flipped to ‘sodden’ this year. Nearly all areas have received above average rainfall for the week, with some stations recording up to four times the normal for the time of the year.
Paddocks have not been able to take the volume of water, with surface water sitting on some low-lying areas.
All this is hitting when farms are at their maximum pre grazing yield of 2,000-2,200kg DM/ha. While this grass was very easy grown with the excellent growing conditions the past few weeks, grazing this will be much more difficult.
It might seem like a headache to graze when weather like this hits, but having this grass in the bag will ultimately result in less winter feed required, with each extra day at grass worth €2/cow.
For the time being, it’s best to target the drier paddocks on farm with less cover on them, between 1,400-1,600kg DM/ha. Getting into these paddocks will allow for a bigger area to be given without compromising on graze outs or residency period.
Twelve hour allocations, reels and pigtails are all the go to as well in an effort to maximise utilisation and minimise damage.
Using alternative entrances in to paddocks, back fencing and spur roads will also be key to limiting poaching.
It’s also important to be mindful that the closing date for spreading slurry this year is 30 September.
Hopefully tanks are now empty on most farms, but there are still some that have slurry remaining, especially after late second or third cuts.
Unlike bagged fertiliser that can be easily stored in the yard, few will have the capacity to store slurry over from last year, so targeting dry fields with low grass covers and getting tanks emptied is a priority this week.
Eoin Corrigan – Trim, Co Meath
We got 64mm of rain in the last week, but we are lucky to be on such dry ground that we have been able to take it ok.
Grazing conditions are still good, but utilisation at the minute is poor with the wet weather, plus we are going in to our heaviest covers of the autumn at 2,400kg DM/ha.
The lower utilisation resulted in our farm cover dropping by 100kg DM/ha in the last week, despite growth being ahead of demand.
We spread 30 units of chemical N at the start of the month, with clover paddocks on a half rate application.
Stocking Rate (cows/ha) 3.6
Growth Rate (kg/day) 69
Average Farm Cover (kg/cow) 1,002
Yield (l/cow) 17
Fat % 5.39
Milk Solids (kg/cow) 1.65
Niall Callanan – Craughwell, Co Galway
Ground conditions are fine, but if bad weather persists, they will deteriorate quickly. Cows are going in to 2,200kg covers, with utilisation ok. I’d rather leave 80-100kg DM/ha behind me and mind ground than damage it in the second last round.
A lot of clover was sown on a new block this year, with this having received dairy washings earlier in the month. We blanket spread the rest of the farm on 5 September with about 20 units of N, with all slurry tanks emptied last week. Scanning has been completed, with a 5% empty rate across cows and heifers at 11 weeks breeding.
Stocking Rate (cows/ha) 3.12
Growth Rate (kg/day) 70
Average Farm Cover (kg/cow) 1,049
Yield (l/cow) 16.2
Fat % 5.1
Milk Solids (kg/cow) 1.52
Shane O’Loughlin – Monasterevin, Co Kildare
We’re strip grazing and back fencing and getting away with ground conditions – it has only been tricky the last 4-5 days. Clean outs are decent, with cows leaving about 100kg DM/ha of a residual. Pre-grazing yield is at about 2,300-2,400kg DM/ha.
We intended going out with fertiliser before the deadline but didn’t get a chance, with a small amount of slurry to go out. We are on a 35-day round, with the aim being to start the final round on 5 October and continue out until mid-November, weather permitting. Cows have been scanned, with a 6.9% empty rate after 12 weeks of breeding.
Stocking Rate (cows/ha) 3.1
Growth Rate (kg/day) 42
Average Farm Cover (kg/cow) 1,187
Yield (l/cow) 19.3
Fat % 4.9
Milk Solids (kg/cow) 1.76