Weather conditions have improved substantially, with warmer temperatures and an end to the northerly winds. This should see a near instant improvement in grass growth rates.

Most of the country got rain over the weekend and there is more rain in the forecast for the coming days, so a shortage of moisture shouldn’t be holding back growth.

There is certainly no shortage of moisture on wet land, which is still drying out. Grass is hungry and stressed looking on most farms, and quality is generally very poor.

That’s going to be hard to fix now, as grass is still in the reproductive phase – in other words, it wants to go to seed.

A lack of nitrogen is not helping this situation, as many farmers have cut back further on chemical N this year. Added to this, clover is slow to take off this year, and that means that there is less biological fixing of nitrogen.

After all the rain, some experts believe there is less background nitrogen in the soil also.

One thing is for sure, if nitrogen is limiting grass growth, then there will be a very high economic response to spreading more of it, if there is an allowance to do so.

Spreading 35kg to 40kg N/ha (28 to 32 units/acre) now will give a good boost to grass. The nitrogen in slurry and soiled water should also be factored in.

Stock bulls

The ICBF have been in touch to say that there are still a couple thousand beef stock bulls on dairy farms that have enrolled in the Dairy Beef Welfare Scheme but that are still not genotyped.

If these bulls had calves registered to them this spring, the calves will not be eligible for any payments under the scheme.

However, if the bull is still on the farm he can still be genotyped and the calves will then be eligible for payment, presuming the bull meets the criteria. If the bull has since been sold or slaughtered, then there is nothing that can be done.

The scheme set out to pay €20 per head up to a maximum of 50 calves that are from a genotyped sire with at least three stars in the dairy beef index (DBI) and three stars for beef value in the DBI.

The three stars rule can be within breed or across breeds. According to the Department, over 13,000 farmers have applied meaning the scheme is over-subscribed. Additional funding will be required if the above payment is to be made to all participants.


We need to be constantly thinking of ways to make farms better places to work. After a very difficult spring and early summer, rewarding employees with some extra time off should be possible now that most of the big jobs are done.

Some farmers are looking at later starts in the morning and earlier finishes in the evening. Others are looking at 13 times milking a bit earlier in the year than normal.

Flexible milking such as “10 in 7” are also options, and this could be used as a cost-cutting exercise also.

With school and college students on summer holidays, there may be more relief mikers available for the summer, and they should be utilised to take weekends and mid-week milkings off.