It’s hard to believe that it’s the beginning of May and we have still to hit 'magic day’.

For those unfamiliar with the term, it is the point when growth exceeds demand on farm and it usually occurs around 10 April for dry farms and around 15 April for heavier soils.

This year, Pasturebase Ireland data is showing that the average dairy farm has a growth of 44kg DM/ha and a demand of 50kg DM/ha.

This is really unheard of at this point of the year, especially when we consider that cows are being fed 4kg of meal/head on average.

Heavier swards

While cover per livestock unit is sitting at 217kg DM/ha, the heavier swards on farms are supporting the average farm cover as grazed swards are slow to bounce back.

Much of this can be attributed to the weather. Soils are wetter than normal due to rainfall levels, making them cold.

Current soil temperatures are sitting at 9°C to 10°C, which does little to push on growth. Farmers who recently spread fertiliser are seeing little return from it just yet.

What to do?

With it being breeding season on a lot of suckler and dairy farms, the important thing is to ensure that animals that are being bred are on good-quality feed.

If cows are grazing less-than-ideal covers, then supplementation with meal to maintain energy levels may well be required.

For fear of sounding like a broken record, growth will come and come soon, so there is no need to hit the break glass in case of emergency button.

Try your best to graze out covers and leave clean residuals for the next round. Where fertiliser is required, apply it at a rate of 18 to 20 units of N/acre in preparation for the lift in growth.