Grass growth

The Teagasc grass growth figures recorded on PastureBase Ireland show the huge variability in growth rates at present.

The lowest growth rates in the west and northwest were recorded in the mid 20s (kg DM/ha).

This is in significant contrast to a number of farms in the midlands, east and south recording growth rates of 60kg to 80kg DM/ha, with many more ranging from 50kg to 60kg DM/ha.

If a settled period of weather and higher temperatures materialise next week, the farms which recorded the higher growth rates and have a much higher average farm cover could see a large spike and growth rates being recorded well in excess of 100kg DM/ha on well-fertilised swards.

Teagasc sheep specialist Ciaran Lynch says these farms are actively identifying paddocks which can be dropped out of the rotation for baling as surplus grass in the next couple of weeks.

Swift action is required and delaying taking paddocks out or delaying cutting these areas will have negative consequences for grass quality.

Farmers should also be looking forward in their grazing rotation and planning to have good-quality grass available for lambs at weaning to minimise any setback in performance.

Rotational grazing

The spike in growth rates will also increase the importance of splitting paddocks or larger grazing areas to capitalise on growth and maintain grass quality. Temporary divisions can be erected at a relatively low cost. Light PVC stakes and three strands of polywire cost in the region of 45c/m to 55c/m depending on the grade of wire used, with thicker horse polywire costing 10c/m to 30c/m more and prices again varying on the grade of wire.

Pigtail posts fitted with detachable insulators cost in the region of 65c/m to 75c/m. Electrified netting, which is marketed in 50m rolls, costs about €2.50/m, while fencing systems with reeled wire and posts cost from €2.50/m to €3/m. More permanent timber or metal stake electric divisions cost anywhere from 70c/m to €1.70/m, with the grade of wire and stakes having a major influence on price.

Sheep ID online facility

A page in this week’s focus feature recaps on the importance of keeping tagging of animals and recording of relevant paperwork up to date. The article should have included that where sheep census figures have not been recorded for past submissions it can be accessed online through a farmer’s facility.

The entry route is via the Animal Identification and Movement heading followed by selecting the sheep keeper option. Move the cursor to the sheep census heading on the top left and select view, followed by the year you want to access numbers for.

A new movements tab allows farmers to search for movements in and out of the flock, with the facility allowing a search to be completed by date and the dispatch document serial number. This can prove useful if there are any question marks surrounding paper records.

The online facility can also be used to order replacement dispatch booklets. Clicking on the heading available in the top centre of the screen will present a list of all booklets ordered with the option to order a new book at the bottom of this screen.