With growth rates surging in the last 10 days, nearly all farms are growing well in excess of demand at this stage. This means that in order to maintain grazing quality ahead of stock, decisions on what paddock to graze and what paddock needs to be baled will need to be made this week.
Where a heavy cover is the next paddock to be grazed, farmers may be tempted just to let stock in and graze it out. However with growth so high, this is the wrong thing to do. Grazing the higher cover will slow down the rotation length and by the time stock are finished in that paddock, two more will have gone ahead of target.
Making decisions early gives you the best chance of maintaining grazing quality. Yes, baling these paddocks will be expensive to do, but it will deliver high quality silage for winter and more importantly it will maintain grazing quality now so that live weight gains at pasture are maximised.
In a year when input costs are so high, farmers need to maximise the number of kilos gained by stock at grass.
Even on farms not measuring grass, it is really important to get out and walk the farm, probably twice a week at this point to keep on top of grass supply, given where growth rates currently are.
James Strain – Burnfoot, Co Donegal
It has been a difficult and late spring in Donegal. The last of our silage ground was only closed last weekend as it was needed for grazing. With silage ground closed at various dates I will likely bale some of the first of it later in the month and then do the main cut around 10 June.
The grazing ground, which is some of the wetter ground, is holding up OK thanks to having a thick sward due to sheep grazing but conditions are touch and go.
At this stage, all grazing ground has received at least one bag/acre of cut sward, with more getting a second bag after being grazed. Stock are now starting to enter lighter covers of 8cm to 9cm which they are very content on.
Soil type Heavy
Farm cover (kg DM/ha) 586
Growth (kg DM/ha/day) 45
Demand (kg DM/ha/day) 52
Willie Treacy – Hackballscross, Co Louth
Grass has been jumping out of the ground over the last 10 days. I have two strong paddocks that will have to be taken out as surplus silage.
First cut is still a fortnight away, so I think I will bale these paddocks now so that they are coming back again for the next rotation. I think it’s better to do that rather than letting them bulk up for another two weeks.
The grazing ground got slurry in spring at a rate of 2,200 gallons/acre and about three-quarters of the ground has since received 25 units of nitrogen and that is all it has got so far this year.
I am glad I haven’t more spread as I would be struggling to keep things under control now that the growth is here.
System Suckler to beef
Soil type Free draining
Farm cover (kg DM/ha) 818
Growth (kg DM/ha/day) 104
Demand (kg DM/ha/day) 65
Shaun Diver – Tullamore Farm, Co Offaly
Last week I spread 63 acres with a half bag of urea to take advantage of the good growing conditions. Once that kicks in I think we will be pulling out surplus paddocks, but we are not there just yet.
Currently stock are entering covers of between 1,400kgDM/ha and 1,500kgDM/ha for the most part with maybe one or two heavier covers around 1,700kgDM/ha.
Breeding is progressing nicely with 56 out of 80 cows and 29 of 40 heifers bred at this stage as we come to the end of the fourth week of AI.
Next week we have to carry out 40-day weights on the lambs and they will get their clostridial vaccination as well as a nematodirus dose and treatment for coccidiosis.
System Suckler to beef
Soil type Variable
Farm cover (kg DM/ha) 936
Growth (kg DM/ha/day) 66
Demand (kg DM/ha/day) 49