Silage quality: Concentrate costs are the largest variable cost on many farms, with this partly due to higher volumes being fed to compensate for lower silage quality.
The focus at present for many is keeping enough grass ahead of ewes, but plans should still be in place to ensure good-quality silage is made.
There are numerous factors that will influence quality, including harvest date, sward type, length of the growing period etc.
Table 1 details the recommended volume of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K), as per Teagasc advice, for first-cut silage based on a sward producing 5t DM/ha.
Teagasc advice for swards with lower yield potential is to reduce N, P and K allocations by 25kg N, 4kg P and 25kg K per tonne of grass dry matter typically produced.
In practical terms, the advice is generally to apply up to 100 units of nitrogen on reseeded or young productive pastures. This can be reduced to 70 to 80 units per acre on less productive swards.
Under normal growing conditions, grassland swards will utilise in the region of two units of nitrogen per day. This should also be borne in mind for farms planning early cutting dates and applying fertiliser for silage.
Grass management: Grass growth rates should hopefully increase this week with the lift in daytime temperature and lower prevalence of ground frost at night.
Careful management is still going to be required to get back on track and, with growth rates likely to be slow to build, the recovery process could be slow.
Therefore, it is important to continue to take steps to conserve and ration existing grass supplies until you are sure you are in a position to revert to normal management for this time of year.
For later-lambing flocks tight on grass and those lambing yearlings, there is still merit in offering concentrate supplementation to ensure peak milk yield is achieved.
Nematodirus reminder: The recent nematodirus warning advised farmers with lambs in the high-risk category (aged six to 12 weeks or under nutritional stress) that treatment (with a white wormer) may be required by the second week of April for those located along coastal regions and in the last two weeks of April for the rest of the country.
Farmers should be mindful of the risk of a high parasite burden as lambs fall into this age bracket and keep a close watch for the characteristic symptoms including a green-coloured scour, profuse diarrhoea, dehydration and rapid weight loss.