Growth dips but rain on the way
Average grass growth rate has dipped a bit this week to 72kg/day, but rain over the next few days should boost growth again.

Average grass growth rates have dipped a bit this week to 72kg/day on average, which is back about 10kg/day on last week.

Looking at the map, counties all along the east and midlands are growing the least, with many farms averaging in the mid 60s as soil moisture deficits are affecting growth.

In some cases, the growth rate is lower than the demand as ground is out for reseeding or silage. Looking at the weather forecast, most of the country should have got some rain by Thursday and if not should definitely get rain at the weekend as there is a storm approaching.

On these farms, growth rate will increase when the rain does come but it won’t be as high as it was a few weeks ago. Grass has gone to seed on most farms so the burst in growth experienced in early May won’t be the same now.

Farms in the west and farms that got thunderstorms are still growing really well, some still over 100kg/day. I would expect to see a gradual reduction in growth on these farms over the next week or so as soil temperatures come back down and rain returns.

They key thing to avoid is getting caught out with a high proportion of the farm closed for silage and not being able to cut it, meaning demand could be higher than growth. Average farm cover should be between 160 and 200kg/cow and demand should be set at what you think growth rate will be. For most farmers, this is between 60 and 70kg/day for June and July. If surplus grass emerges, it should be cut out as soon as possible.

Grass quality is poor enough on many farms. On lower stocked farms, it’s not much of an issue if the cows are not being asked to graze out fully. Wait until just after the rain to spread fertiliser this week. There’s no problem spreading urea on moist soils. The equivalent of one unit of nitrogen should be spread per day for the summer.

  • Growth rates have dropped a bit on farms with a soil moisture deficit.
  • Widespread rain this weekend will improve growth rate.
  • Spread one unit/day of nitrogen.
  • Keep average farm cover at between 160 and 200kg/cow.
  • Brendan Horan

    Teagasc Curtins Farm, Cork

    Stocking rate (cows/ha) 5.4

    Growth rate (kg/day) 109

    Average farm cover (kg/cow) 170

    Yield (l/cow/day) 22.45

    Fat % 4.49

    Protein % 3.51

    Milk solids (kg/cow) 1.7

    Supplement fed (kg/cow/day) 0.2

    I’m surprised that growth rate is as high as it is but it’s great to get it. The stocking rate looks very high, and it is, but there are silage fields cut and waiting to come back in and there is also reseeded ground to come back in too. Demand is currently 92kg/day. Pre-grazing yield is high at 1,800kg but it is nearly all aftergrass so quality is good. Protein is back about 0.15% compared to other years and this could be because of the higher covers. We’re spreading 25 units of CAN/acre after grazing.

    Alan Hughes

    Bagenalstown, Co Carlow

    Stocking rate (cows/ha) 3.57

    Growth rate (kg/day) 26

    Average farm cover (kg/cow) 112

    Yield (l/cow/day) 23.5

    Fat % 4.01

    Protein % 3.44

    Milk solids (kg/cow) 1.80

    Supplement fed (kg/cow/day) 5m 5s

    Growth has crashed here as we have got little or no rain in weeks. We started feeding silage 10 days ago, starting out feeding two bales per day and now we’re feeding five bales per day. I’m feeding them in the yard as I found there was too much wastage in the field. Hopefully we will get the rain at the weekend and growth will increase. I remember growing 120kg/day on 15 June last year so when it does come it will grow well. I got a good first cut of silage and made 100 bales in May so I have enough silage.

    Jeremy Hitchens

    Birr Castle, Offaly

    Stocking rate (cows/ha) 3.88

    Growth rate (kg/day) 97

    Average farm cover (kg/cow) 135

    Yield (l/cow/day) 21

    Fat % 4.32

    Protein % 3.64

    Milk solids (kg/cow) 1.7

    Supplement fed (kg/cow/day) 2

    Grass has been hard to manage this year as it has gone very stemmy over the last few weeks but we are grazing lighter covers and grazing harder to try to prevent seed heads emerging. We have cut a good bit of the farm over the last few weeks, both for bale silage and also pre-mowing. We’re grazing covers of 1,300kg. I’d like to increase this to 1,400 or 1,500kg over the next few weeks as cows would perform a bit better on it. Breeding has been going well, but it’s still too early to know for sure. We got 92% of the herd submitted after 24 days of breeding.

    Barry Reilly

    Teagasc Ballyhaise, Cavan

    Stocking rate (cows/ha) 3.52

    Growth rate (kg/day) 81

    Average farm cover (kg/cow) 145

    Yield (l/cow/day) 20.4

    Fat % 4.30

    Protein % 3.52

    Milk solids (kg/cow) 1.70

    Supplement fed (kg/cow/day) 1

    Grass is flying it and we have about 50% of the farm cut over the last few weeks. Cows are grazing covers of 1,400kg and we’re allocating 16kg of grass and 1kg of meal in the parlour. Clean-outs are good as we are grazing to 4 to 4.5cm post-grazing height.

    We have just two cows left to serve. We are using beef AI bulls for the next two weeks and after that we will let out stock bulls for the last month. Cows are milking well and I’m happy with how things are going.

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