Grass management: Grass supplies continue to vary greatly across farms, with growth rates coming under significant pressure on farms which have not received any worthwhile volume of rain in recent weeks.
Supply issues are compounded on some farms by growth rates jumping sharply a few weeks ago leading to surplus paddocks being taken out of the rotation and topping to control quality, both of which delayed regrowth.
The forecast is for rain early next week and if this remains the case then it is important to be ready to capitalise on it and apply fertiliser.
The volume applied will depend on the grass supply situation, stocking rate and whether or not paddocks were mowed and surplus grass removed.
In the latter case it is important to replenish swards to replace nutrients removed.
As a guide, a yield of three bales per acre will remove 30 units N, 4.8 units P and 30 units K. This increases to 40 units N, 6.4 units K and 40 units K for four bales per acre and a similar increase to five bales per acre.
This accounts for only the nutrients removed and does not address soil fertility deficits or maintenance applications, which may also need to be taken into account.
As such, it is important that compound fertilisers are used over straight nitrogen. Slurry and farmyard manure (FYM) should also be used strategically, with 1,000 gallons of cattle slurry typically containing 7 units N (halved in summer), 5 units P and 30 units K. An application of 1t FYM contains 2.7 units N, 2.4 P and 12 K.
Meal feeding hill lambs: Hill sheep farmers participating in the Sheep Welfare Scheme and who selected the measure of feeding meals to lambs pre-weaning need to be aware of the requirements. The Department of Agriculture recommends offering concentrate supplementation starting at 75g per head daily in week one and increasing to 125g in week two, 175g in week three and 250g in week four.
This gives a minimum input per lamb of 4.4kg over a four-week period. The measure must be carried out across all lambs in the flock but feeding periods can be staggered where there is an age gap between lambs and more than one weaning date.
Feed receipts must be maintained for inspection and these must be relevant to the period during which feeding takes place. For example, issues can sometimes occur where meal is ordered at a particular date and paid for at a later stage with this date ending up on the invoice and not correlating to feeding times. Recorded dates may also be cross-referenced with dispatch documents to ensure meal feeding began on time while inspectors can also ask to view feeding points.
Grass10 farm walk: Sheep and tillage farmers Peter and Tom McGuinness are the host farm for a Teagasc Grass10 farm walk on Wednesday 7 July at 7pm. The farm in Trim Co Meath (Eircode: C15YE30) took the title of 2020 Sheep Grassland Farmer of the Year.
The farm has continuously strived to improve lamb performance through improved grassland management including paddock grazing, reseeding and enhancing soil fertility. A flock of in excess of 800 ewes is run with ewes lambing outdoors from mid-March. With the farm growing an average of 13.7t grass DM/ha, there will be lots to see on the evening.