Average growth rate across the whole island of Ireland was up at 60kg DM/ha/day for the last seven days. Thankfully this means that covers will be building on most farms.

As always, there is big variation around this figure, with measurements coming in as low as 30kg of growth daily and as high as 110kg. Region-specific weather patterns are playing a huge role in this, with certain parts of the country now well and truly out of fodder crisis mode and others remaining cold, wet and still very much up against it. To compound the hardship in these places, ground might still be touch-and-go when it comes to travelling, so fertiliser applications are well back, contributing further to poor growth rates.

Thankfully, the coming seven-day period looks to be exactly what the doctor ordered for these farmers. If at all possible, going with one to two bags of CAN/acre as soon as possible will do a lot to drive on growth rates and farm covers on these farms.

In other places, the story is quite different but the complaints are good. I know a couple of farmers who are scratching their heads ahead of the promised good weather. The sudden burst of growth in recent weeks after a cold period has created difficulties in managing covers. The goal with grassland management is to create a wedge shape when we graph our covers.

However, because we went from nought to sixty in a couple of weeks, after grazing almost everything, the wedge is rather flat in a lot of places.

We can do two things – increase our pre-grazing yield to 11cm (only a temporary measure until we can get more stock out), or the second option – skip paddocks for bales. It might seem strange to be talking about removing surpluses given the spring we’ve just come through, but this is the reality. We need to get back out of silage-forking mode and back into grassland management mode very soon. With breeding season now beginning, good leafy grass will be key to ensuring good conception rates.

Brian Doran

Co Wicklow

System: suckler to beef

Soil type: free-draining clay

Farm cover (kg DM/ha): 774

Demand (kg DM/ha/day): 21

Growth (kg DM/ha/day): 39

There is a decent cover of grass at present on the farm but growth rates remain rather low. Ground conditions had improved well until the heavy rainfall we received on Tuesday. Since then, it is back to square one.

The majority of my grazing ground has received over 50 units of nitrogen at this stage. It got a half bag of urea per acre back in February then in early April I went with a bag and a half of 18-6-12 on any ground that did not get slurry.

Next week, I will go with another 30 units of urea to try to drive on grass growth. I have all my silage ground closed now at this stage. It got three bags of 18-6-12 and 1.5 bags of Cut Sward per acre. Calving is finished a few weeks at this stage and the bull went out again last week. He will remain out for another 11 weeks. Cows are being supplemented with hi-mag blocks as a measure against grass tetany.

Padraig O’Connor

Co Roscommon

System: suckler to beef

Soil type: free-draining loam

Farm cover (kg DM/ha): 420

Demand (kg DM/ha/day): 18

Growth (kg DM/ha/day): 48

The rain on Tuesday was an unwelcome sight but ground conditions aren’t too bad at the moment. I’ve finally got all cows and calves out to grass and they have settled well in the last fortnight cleaning out paddocks. I’m running two herds of cows, with 25 in each. The maternal cows are running with a five-star replacement Limousin bull and the other 25 ladies are with a five-star terminal Charolais bull. I also have a group of replacement heifers with a young Saler bull. I was going to synchronise and AI the heifers but the fact they are away from the home farm it would have been too awkward. I find the Saler very easy calving and a lot of my best cows are actually bred by a Saler bull I had before.

I’ve gone with another round of 30 units of urea on the grazing ground. While I have grass ahead of cows, I am getting tight. What is grazed off to date is still very slow to come back but warmer temperatures over the weekend should drive on growth.

Shane Gleeson

Co Limerick

System: suckler to weanling

Soil type: highly variable

Farm cover (kg DM/ha): 812

Demand (kg DM/ha/day): 5

Growth (kg DM/ha/day): 34

I have eight cows and calves still out on my out farm grazing the driest of my land there. I moved my 30 yearling dairy cross steers over there too last week. I still have 22 suckler cows and my yearling suckler heifers housed.

I have covered most of my land with two bags per acre of 18-6-12 at this stage and any land that received slurry has received 40 units of urea. I have some silage ground closed up that received 3,000 gallons of slurry and this has got 90 units of nitrogen also.

I am down to my last couple of silage bales in the yard. An old part of a silage pit from years ago carried me through the bad spell. I thought I had well in excess of my winter requirement for silage but this year has taught me I can never have too much. I plan to push hard to rebuild reserves this summer and will spread my full allowance of nitrogen along with following P and K recommendations.

Shaun Diver

Tullamore Farm

System: suckler to beef

Soil type: variable

Farm cover (kg DM/ha): 727

Demand (kg DM/ha/day): 28

Growth (kg DM/ha/day): 48

Growth has remained good here on Tullamore Farm, with 48kg DM/ha recorded over the past seven days. Demand is running at 28kg DM/ha. More stock have been turned out this week to raise demand in line with grass growth. However, even with this we anticipate that we will be removing surpluses in the next three weeks. Average farm cover is 727kg DM/ha, while stocking rate is currently 1,311kg LW/ha or 2.63 LU/ha. We’re going with a round of 18-6-12 next to address P & K issues, which will take us to 100 units N spread on most of the farm. Bulls are due to be weighed on Thursday but seem to be doing well. They’re on ad-lib meals, eating 11kg per day. We’re busy preparing for our first ever breeding heifer sale which takes place on bank holiday Monday evening (7 May) at 3.30pm in Tullamore Mart. We had three cases of tetany in ewes over the weekend so went back in with meal to groups that had issues. We’re also looking at the possibility of giving ewes magnesium boluses.

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Growth flatlines after a hard week