Every farmer I speak to has the same thing to say – grass growth has slowed and quality is deteriorating rapidly. This is typical for the time of year and although it is difficult to deal with, it should be short lived and won't be an issue by the next rotation.
The remedy for dealing with stemmy grass differs depending where in the country you are and how heavily stocked the farm is.
In the south, a lack of moisture is compounding the issue, with many grass plants experiencing moisture stress which increases the speed at which the plant puts up a seed head.
The lack of moisture has also slowed grass growth, and so a different approach is needed. While topping would sort the problem provided you cut the sward low enough (below 4cm) in areas where moisture is lacking topping should be avoided as regrowth will only be further delayed after cutting.
The only option is to force cattle to spend an extra day or two in these paddocks cleaning them out. This will do two things, firstly slow down the rotation and in doing so give the paddocks ahead more time to recover, and secondly it will help improve grass quality in the next grazing. In saying this, some stem will remain and you will just have to live with it in current conditions.
For farms in the north west of the country, moisture is definitely not lacking, but stemmy grass is still an issue. Where the farm cover is good and there is plenty of grass on farm, heavy covers or even some lighter covers that have gone to seed should be cut and baled for silage.
Forcing cattle to graze these swards in this instance does not make sense, as paddocks further on in the rotation will only be going too strong.
Matthew Murphy – Newford Herd, Athenry
Grass growth has slowed, but that is likely due to lower fertiliser applications compared to previous years. We have a lot of grazing ground oversown with clover and are only spreading 10kgN/ha/month on these swards to encourage growth.
Silage ground will be available from next week, so we plan to move some cows and calves off the home farm onto silage aftergrass which will relieve the pressure.
The calves were weighed on 2 June and average daily gain since birth is in excess of 1.4kg/day which we are very happy with.
The 2021-born heifers were also weighed and averaged 492kg at 15 months of age. The plan is to draft some of the heaviest and fleshier heifers for slaughter in the next four to six weeks.
System Suckler to beef
Soil type Mostly dry
Farm cover (kg DM/ha) 565
Growth (kg DM/ha/day) 50
Demand (kg DM/ha/day) 57
Willie Treacy – Hackballscross, Co Louth
We were going well up until 10 days ago but the rain has stopped since. Growth has dipped but thankfully there is a decent farm cover at the moment.
I am always cautious at this time of year and have learned from previous years that early intervention is key when dealing with dry conditions.
I am feeding a small bit of silage to some stock and one paddock that I had planned on baling I am now strip grazing with dry cows. Utilisation is still very good and grass quality across the farm is decent, which is probably due to the last round of fertiliser.
I need to go again with fertiliser but I will have to wait for some rain to be forecast. Breeding seems to be coming to an end, I have only seen three cows bulled this week.
System Suckler to beef
Soil type Free draining
Farm cover (kg DM/ha) 958
Growth (kg DM/ha/day) 41
Demand (kg DM/ha/day) 84
Declan Marren – THRIVE Farm, Co Tipperary
The farm seems to be missing whatever small bit of rainfall there has been over the last two weeks. Growth has slowed considerably and grass quality is quite poor on the grazing ground, as swards are heading out at low covers due to moisture stress.
The calves are being prioritised with the best grass, and they are now moving into silage aftergrass. The last 14 calves were weaned at the weekend and the calves are now grazing in three batches of 50.
The 2021-born stock are grazing swards of 1,200-1,500kgDM/ha but there is quite a bit of stem to work through.
Grass dry matter is high and this is helping to keep stock settled at grass. The plan is to go with around 20 units of nitrogen once there is rain forecast.
System Dairy calf to beef
Soil type Mostly dry
Farm cover (kg DM/ha) 692
Growth (kg DM/ha/day) 40
Demand (kg DM/ha/day) 41