The sunshine, heat and showers that were seen at the Moorepark 2023 open day on Tuesday typified the growthy weather we have been having of late, as farms crawl out of a grass deficit.
While growth is in excess of demand for virtually all farms, there is still cover to build after average farm covers took a hammering during the drought, despite our drought management being much improved.
The one thing that I have heard consistently over the past few weeks is how quality had been hammered by the drought, with milk constituents being affected as a result.
Farmers rightly stopped topping paddocks when growth dipped to prevent a further fall off in growth during the dry spell, but now correction needs to take place.
Some farms are still struggling to build farm cover at the moment, so taking out paddocks in bales isn’t a great option here.
While there is stem in a lot of swards, farmers have been reporting that the underlying grass is good. Pre mowing or topping should take place, ideally in this round, to get swards back to a leafy condition.
The worst paddocks from a quality point can be baled out. Correction needs to take place this month, as there are only two to three grazings left before we are looking at building autumn covers.
Any autumn reseeding or sowing of winter forage crops will need to be completed in the next couple of weeks to so as to ensure ground conditions allow for fertiliser and herbicide applications, as well as grazing pre winter.
There might be an opportunity to incorporate spraying off paddocks, baling them out and getting in to cultivation work which will reduce the downtime of paddocks being reseeded.
Ben Tyrell– Kildalkey, Co Meath
We are just really coming out of the drought now with a good deal of rain having fallen in the last week.
Growth is nicely ahead of demand but our cover per cow is lower than we would like so we are just building cover again.
We found that clover paddocks on farm really did a lot to keep us going during the drought as they continued to grow well. The buffer feed was pulled from cows two weeks ago.
Quality of grass has been a big issue, and has really affected protein. We are now starting to correct this as growth improves, having avoided mowing/topping during the drought.
Danny Bermingham – Doonbeg, Co Clare
We have gone from a soil moisture deficit of 65 three weeks ago to soils being near saturation point at the minute, with the volume of rain we’ve received.
Our cover per cow is high, but with a river running through the farm, some paddocks are at risk of flooding this week.
Six hectares of paddocks have been taken out for long-term silage as they were poorly grazed in the last round. They’ve been topped up with a bag of 18-6-12/acre.
Second cut silage is ready for mowing, with the first cut having been harvested on 17 May. Second cut is of lesser quality, however first cut was excellent.
Caroline O’Sullivan – Teagasc Curtins, Co Cork
We baled out one-third of the farm last week to get a handle on grass quality, as well as a lot of paddocks having all come at once after the burst of growth post drought.
Paddocks were baled out at 1,800-1,900kg DM/ha covers, which has seen our growth dip down this week. We are running a little bit tight as a result, but we should be fine again next week.
We are grazing a cover of 1,300kg DM/ha at the moment, but will be back down to some lower covers after this. Our reseeds that were sown in the last week of April have only just been grazed this week.