Following a very wet weekend in most areas, conditions have improved with higher temperatures pushing grass growth this week. This improvement in weather is to be short lived though as lower temperatures are forecast to return over Easter weekend.
The average growth rate as recorded on PastureBase Ireland this week was 27kgDM/ha.
The challenging grazing conditions after the heavy rainfall have highlighted the importance of on/off grazing, spur roadways and back fencing again. Where on/off grazing is possible restrict silage for a period before leaving cows/cattle out to ensure they have an appetite.
On drystock farms on/off grazing is not always possible. Therefore 12- to 24-hour allocations should be given and a back fence used to avoid cattle travelling over ground that has already been grazed.
At this stage the farm should be walked weekly to assess re growths. Avoid letting the AFC (average farm cover) drop below 550kg DM/ha. Target to start your second rotation when your first three to four paddocks grazed are at a cover of 1,200kg DM/ha.
For example, if your first few paddocks grazed are at a cover of 900kg DM today, you are 300kg DM below target. If growth rate is 25kg DM/ha/day divide 300 by 25 which will give you the number of days before the paddock will hit 1,200kg DM/ha, which in this example is 12 days.
Caroline O’Sullivan, Teagasc, Curtins, Cork
During the challenging weather at the weekend, cows were brought in each night around 9pm. There was no silage allocated while indoors. Since then, they are back out full-time and have returned to 24-hour allocations. We plan to start the second round on 5 April.
There is a cover of 1,000kg DM/ha on the first paddocks grazed. This week, we are going with our second round of fertiliser and are putting out 30 units of nitrogen per acre. We are going to metricheck all cows and we will also be vaccinating for BVD and Lepto.
Sean O'Donnell, Behy Beg, Co Mayo
To date, the cows have 90% of the farm grazed. There is a cover of 1,000kgDM/ha back on the first paddock grazed. Over the weekend we reintroduced silage to the diet. We will keep feeding three to four kg of silage for the next week or so in order to reduce demand and extend the first rotation to 8 April.
Cows will get a full allocation of grass after the morning milking. Evening milking takes place at 3pm and they get silage before being left out to grass at 7pm. Pre-breeding heat detection will start on 20 April with a planned start of breeding on 10 May.
Percy Mills, Kilcullen, Co Kildare
The second rotation started here last week and the cows are grazing covers of 1,200kgDM/ha and graze-outs have been excellent. I have reduced the demand to 26kgDM/ha/day by feeding a silage and maize mix for two and a half hours morning and evening. In the next week or so this will be reduced as growth increases.
The cows were body condition-scored (BCS) this week and averaged a BCS of 3 and first-lactation cows below a BCS of 2.75 have been put on once a day milking.
I plan to start breeding on 10 April.