High temperatures and rain have seen growth rates continue to rise. The average growth rate for farms recording on PastureBase Ireland this week is 60kg DM/ha.
However, there is still a huge variation in growth rates depending on location. Some farms have had more than enough rain while others have only had enough to keep growth going in the short term.
Many farmers will be looking at the weather forecast which is expecting the back end of this week to be dry with temperatures hitting the mid to high 20s. Rain is forecast for some areas in the south of the country on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Walking the farm every five days at this time of the year is extremely important in order to react quickly to changeable growth rates. Having up-to-date grass figures will help with the decision-making process.
On dairy farms the target average farm cover is between 160kg DM/LU and 180kg DM/LU. On beef farms, target having 12 to 14 days of grass ahead of the cattle. Farms at risk of drying fast should keep to the higher end of these targets.
With the return of after-grass and reseeded ground on many farms, pre-grazing covers are ideal. Grazing a paddock at a cover of 1,300kg DM/ha to 1,500kg DM/ha will ensure the cows or cattle are getting the best quality grass and maximising production.
David Roulston – Saint Johnston, Co Donegal
Things have really turned around this week and we are coming out the other side of the drought. Growth is back up to 65kg DM/ha having been down as low as 35kg DM/ha only a couple of weeks ago. As we are stocked high on the milking platform we had to reduce demand by introducing silage at 3.5kg DM/cow/day.
The silage is out of the diet now and we have increased demand back up to 70kg DM/ha. There is a mixture of soil types across the farm here but the majority of it is not suited to very dry weather. Pre-grazing covers are around 1,500kg DM/ha and graze-outs have been excellent over the last while.
Richard & Gearoid Hinchion – Co Cork
Growth has improved a lot this week. We got around 12mm of rain 10 days ago and another 15mm last weekend. I am walking regularly to keep up with the rising growth rates and plan to walk again at the end of this week.
Cover per livestock unit (C/LU) has increased from a low of 130kg DM/LU two weeks ago. Silage ground and reseeded ground coming back into the rotation helped to slow down the round and give things a chance to recover. This extra ground also allowed us to avoid feeding silage. Due to the fact we have a lot of silage in the yard we are taking the opportunity to reseed another 10 acres this weekend.
Shane Hegarty – Craanlusky, Co Carlow
Stocking rate has dropped as all ground is back in for grazing. Growth since last Friday was 92kg DM/ha/day. Depending on growth rates we might stop some ground for second-cut silage and if not we will just take surplus bales as they arise. During the drought growth fell to the mid-30s and we ended up feeding 3kg DM of silage per cow for six days. Average farm cover was in the 400s for the majority of June. Although cutting surplus grass in early June tightened things up, grass quality is excellent at the minute as a result. Cows are currently grazing a 1,300kg DM/ha cover which is their second grazing on this year’s reseeded ground.
Shaun Diver – Tullamore Farm, Co Offaly
Grass growth has improved over the last 10 days with small amounts of rainfall over a number of days. Growth is still below average at 42kgDM/ha but we are more than meeting demand. There were some stronger covers that I debated taking out but with the way growth has been I decided to have them grazed instead to slow down the rotation slightly.
The bull was removed from the breeding heifers last Thursday so we will pregnancy-scan in mid-August to see how we have got on with them. The bull has now gone into the cows to mop up any repeats after AI.
We plan to wean the lambs next week. We will weigh the lambs at the same time to get a weaning weight.
Donall Fahy – Grange, Co Meath
Grass is in a perfect situation after some welcome rain. Growth is equal to herd demand and there are 11 days of grass ahead. Sward quality is good with the availability of after-grass from surplus bales. Yearling steers are grazing covers of 1,300-1,600kg DM/ha and are moved every 48 hours when paddocks are grazed to 4cm. Holstein Friesian steers weigh 458kg and Angus steers 455kg, both having achieved an ADG of 1.2kg since turnout in early March. Holstein Friesian and Angus calves weigh 145kg and have gained 0.8kg since arriving on farm at 21 days of age. Calves are being offered the cleanest and most palatable swards (after-grass) to ensure high performance is met. Second-cut silage will be cut over the coming week.
Niall O’Meara – Killimor, Co Galway
The rain was a welcome guest over the last week or so. I had fertiliser out before it arrived to maximise grass growth.
I have four acres cut for silage this week. I expect it to yield around six bales to the acre. I still require around 200 bales for the winter but on my farm, the demand for grass is reduced from now until the end of August so it is typically late-July and early August when we make a lot of silage on the farm.
Over the last few weeks I have sold my cull cows which averaged €2/kg liveweight as well as the beef heifers which averaged €2.40/kg. The bulls will be sold at the end of August at a year old and I would expect them to be 500kg at the point of sale.