The first round is nearing completion on some of the drier farms across the country, in what has been a first round of two halves.

February was a dream month, with the cows out full time, residuals being nailed and farmers getting through the spring rotation planner with ease.

The past three weeks turned things on it’s head, with even the loosest soils unable to cope with the volume of rainfall we were seeing.

Every dairy farmer I’ve talked to in the past three weeks has had three words for me: on-off grazing.

Even at this, farmers continued to get through ground, with those who had surpassed their spring rotation planner and grazed hard gleeful that they did so. Many farmers will now be looking towards the second rotation in the next week or two, having been pushed out due to the recent bad weather.

Farmers are reporting cover of 1,000-1,200kg DM/ha on these, so another week or so worth of growth should put these paddocks in a nice position to get cows on to them.

Soil temperatures, which had remained stubbornly low, have thankfully begun to lift, most likely attributed to the longer days we are seeing. Growth too has seen a steady increase, with farmers now reporting growth in the mid 20s more frequently.

Next week’s predicted growths are set to run between the mid 20s to the mid 30s, which is achievable now that so much of the winter growth on paddocks has been grazed and grass has received that ‘kick’ it gets after the first grazing

Sward watch

  • Assess what’s left in the first rotation and how much grass is now on the first paddocks to be grazed.
  • If ground conditions and weather allow it, some fertiliser should be spread on the milking platform provided there hasn’t been any chemical or artificial N spread recently.
  • Plan to get fertiliser out on silage ground in the next week or so if conditions allow to target a mid-May cut.
  • Farmers

    Caroline O’Sullivan – Teagasc Curtins, Co Cork

    Cows have been out full time since Monday, with no silage going in to the diet now. The fine spell over the weekend was welcome, and brought us some reprieve.

    Prior to that we were seeing up to 12mm of rain some nights, and ground wasn’t getting a proper chance to dry out.

    We are currently on 12-hour allocations, with cows being given 15kg of grass and 4kg of ration.

    We are probably over allocating but we prefer cows to be full, as when they are, even in wet weather conditions, they don’t do much damage to the sward. As such they are not doing any damage to the ground.

    Stocking Rate (cows/ha) 2.3

    Growth Rate (kg/day) 28

    Average Farm Cover (kg/ha) 830

    Yield (l/cow) 24

    Fat % 5

    Protein% 3.5

    Milk Solids (kg/cow) 2.1

    Supplement fed (kg/cow/day) 4

    Shane Hegarty – Craanlusky, Co Carlow

    We are continuing to on-off graze, with everything being dictated by the weather. When we can we are getting cows out by day or out by night, but we are doing three hour grazings as well to try to limit damage.

    Our paddocks that we grazed first have 1,100-1,200kg of a cover on them. We have 14 grazings ahead of us to complete the first round, with the weather hampering grazing and slowing us down with this. The platform received 22 units of urea in early February, and a bag of 18-6-12 three weeks ago. We will top them up again, as well as finish spreading silage ground, when the weather improves.

    Stocking Rate (cows/ha) 3.2

    Growth Rate (kg/day) 25

    Average Farm Cover (kg/ha) 700

    Yield (l/cow) 25

    Fat % 4.71

    Protein% 3.3

    Milk Solids (kg/cow) 2.06

    Supplement fed (kg/cow/day) 4

    Danny Cremin – Ballycran, Co Limerick

    Grazing has been a struggle, but we have managed to get grass in to cows nearly every day. We had some good drying weather over the past few days, which has helped improve ground conditions somewhat.

    Graze outs were good in February and early March, which should set us up well for the second round. We have covers between 1,000-1,200kg on these first paddocks, with plans to start the second-round next week.

    Most of the platform has received 2,500 gallons slurry/acre and a half bag of urea. We have no fertiliser spread on silage ground yet, but will hopefully get this out next week.

    Stocking Rate (cows/ha) 2.54

    Growth Rate (kg/day) 23

    Average Farm Cover (kg/ha) 651

    Yield (l/cow) 24

    Fat % 4.65

    Protein% 3.56

    Milk Solids (kg/cow) 2.03

    Supplement fed (kg/cow/day) 4