There is a stark contrast between farms in the east and west of the country this week with those in the west making the most of near perfect conditions to make hay while the sun shines. However, even on the heaviest of farms would welcome some rainfall in the coming day’s – once the hay is baled.

On drier farms, the need for moisture is beginning to reach critical levels.

This is especially true on heavily stocked farms where demand for grass is high.

Growth rates have declined again this week with moisture being the limiting factor in almost all cases.

Where grass supply is tight, it may make more sense to start feeding silage now rather than waiting until grass supply has completely dried up.

Feeding baled silage to cattle at grass will slow up rotations which is what is needed at the moment with any ground grazed over the last 10 days very slow to recover.

Continue to walk the farm weekly to keep on top of the situation. The weekends rainfall will help kick on grass growth once again as well as the fact that many farms now have aftergrass coming back available for grazing, the pressure will be reduced slightly.

Shaun Diver – Tullamore farm, Co Offaly

  • System: Suckler to beef
  • Soil type: Variable
  • Farm cover (kg DM/ha): 740
  • Growth (kg DM/ha/day): 35
  • Demand (kg DM/ha/day): 38
  • Grass supply is getting tight on the farm at the moment, rain received last Wednesday and Thursday has at least helped to keep the place green. Hopefully the rain forecast for the weekend materialises and all will be well once again.

    I have moved stock about a bit trying to keep decent covers ahead of the cows. There is no point going into low covers with a group of cows because they will be through it in no time. Anything that has been grazed in the last fortnight is very slow to recover. I have a lot of covers around 800kgDM/ha to 900kgDM/ha.

    The sheep are now grazing aftergrass which is just perfect for grazing. I have drafted the first 18 lambs for slaughter on Thursday.

    Martin and Marie Keating – Westport, Co Mayo

  • System: Dairy calf to beef
  • Soil type: Heavy
  • Farm cover (kg DM/ha): 604
  • Growth (kg DM/ha/day): 47
  • Demand (kg DM/ha/day): 36
  • While growth is not excessive, it continues to outstrip demand here which is great. I have a three acre paddock of surplus grazing cut for hay to be baled late this week. It is nice to get the opportunity to save some good hay, it isn’t every year we get the weather to do so.

    I have pulled out eight of the heaviest finishing heifers to start meal feeding. They are averaging around the 510kg mark. They will start on 2kg/day of concentrate and build up to 3kg/day. They are quite fleshy and I would expect to be drafting the first of them in three weeks’ time, at a slaughter age of around 17 months old.

    This year’s calves are thriving well, they continue to enter covers of between 1200kgDM/ha and 1300kgDM/ha.

    Richard Milligan – Robertstown, Co Kildare

  • System: Suckler and beef farm
  • Soil type: free draining
  • Farm cover (kg DM/ha): 1,250
  • Growth (kg DM/ha/day): 38
  • Demand (kg DM/ha/day): 40
  • There is plenty of grass ahead of stock at the moment, however quality is quite poor. This is our first year in transition to organic and in fear of running out of grass I was carrying higher covers which is the reason why quality is suffering slightly. It’s a learning curve and something I hope to improve on next year.

    To minimise the impact of the stemmier grass, the calves are forward creep grazing ahead of the cows. I am doing some topping where needed post-grazing.

    We are putting in a seven way mix of multispecies sward this week. It is being stitched into 10 day old silage stubble. Hopefully with rain coming this weekend we have got the timing right.