Teagasc has advised dairy farmers not to obsess about peak milk, but to alternatively obsess about grass quality and drive on milk solids.

Head of dairy knowledge transfer at Teagasc Dr Joe Patton explained how the biggest risk to milk production in mid-season is only manifesting itself now - poor grass quality.

"Just because you get a high peak doesn’t guarantee you are set up for high milk production for the year.

"Conversely, if you got a lower peak that does not mean you can’t catch up in milk from this point forward and for the remainder of the year," he argued.

What’s more important for production in May, June, July and August, Patton said, will be grass quality on the day it is grazed.

“Don’t overly worry about the fact that the cows haven’t peaked as much as they would have, think about fixing grass quality this week, next week and the week after and you will get a milk yield response to that. Don’t obsess about peak, obsess about grass quality.”

Pre-grazing covers

The topic of the correct pre-grazing covers was also discussed, with Patton highlighting why 1,400kg DM/ha covers are optimal for cow performance and health and why - regardless of stocking rate - they should always be the aim.

Patton showed how cows receiving no concentrate and grazing 1,400kg DM/ha covers produced similar volumes of milk to those on 2,000kg DM/ha being supplemented at a rate of 6kg/head/day (milk kg of 23.9kg versus 23.7kg).

Again, when compared at the same covers, this time receiving 2kg/head/day of concentrate on each, the cows grazing 1,400kg DM/ha covers had a grass intake of 16.2kg and a milk production of 26.2kg, whereas cows on the 2,000kg DM/ha cover had a grass intake of 14.5kg and milk production of 19.7kg.

“The reason we talk about 1,400kg DM/ha covers and a couple of kilogrammes of concentrate at most is it’s the best balance of cow performance, cow health and managing to maximise the grass utilised out of the paddock,” Patton explained.

Patton was talking during Teagasc's recent ‘managing grass and herd health in mid-season' webinar.

Elsewhere in the webinar, Grass10 adviser Joseph Dunphy offered tips to maintain grass quality in the weeks ahead, while Sligo dairy farmer and 2023 Young Grassland Farmer of the Year Evan Hunt detailed how his farm coped through the spring and the steps he’s taking to maintain grass quality through the mid-season period.