Average growth over the last week was 52kg/ha per day, which is about 15kg to 20kg lower than most would be expecting for the time of year.

According to PastureBase data, most farms have set demand at 14.5kg of grass per cow per day, meaning there is 4kg to 5kg of other feeds being fed per cow per day in order to maintain a normal rotation length.

Stocking rate is set at 3.4 cows/ha on average, meaning there is ground not being grazed due to being closed for second cut silage or reseeding.

Grass growth is predicted to be 50kg to 60kg per day over the coming week, which means that in the main, farmers will have to continue feeding high rates of supplement for another while.

The period of sluggish grass growth rates is lingering for longer than many expected. If there is second cut silage growing on the platform, I would be more inclined to graze that than to be feeding high rates of meal or silage.

A bounce in grass growth will come at some stage and when it does surpluses will appear again and the area intended for silage but grazed, will be made up again. If covers in the silage fields are high, graze by day or by night and graze lower covers in between.

Growth rates are poor in the north west of the country, due to wet land moreso than a hangover from moisture deficit. Whatever about feeding silage in dry conditions, having to feed silage in wet conditions is a different challenge.

Allocating grass in 12 hour breaks, back fencing and making sure cows don’t go out to grass too full of feed are all tips to limit damage. With a dry and warm week in the weather forecast, ground conditions should be improving in these parts.

It’s a good opportunity on drier farms to get some soiled water and slurry spread on grazing ground. Low emission slurry spreading has enabled soiled water to be spread on grazing ground without soiling grass.

Soiled water contains about four units of nitrogen for every 1,000 gallons applied, although this is variable and all depends on how diluted the water is. At 3,000 gallons/acre it can replace a round of fertiliser, particularly on fields with good clover contents.

Sward watch

  • Grass growth rates are slower than normal and many farmers are having to put in extra feed to maintain the rotation length at 20 to 25 days.
  • Predicted grass growth rates for the week ahead are at 50kg to 60kg per day, so additional feed will be needed on most dairy farms.
  • If putting in extra feed, make sure to use a strip wire to allocate grass daily.
  • It’s a good opportunity to get soiled water applied to grazing fields with about four units of nitrogen present in every 1,000 gallons of soiled water.
  • Farmers

    Donald Bateman – Ballylooby, Co Tipperary

    Our cover per cow is high, but our heaviest paddocks are currently sitting at 1,200kg, with a lot of paddocks between 600kg to 1,000kg.

    The farm burnt up in June with growth dropping back to between 30kg and 40kg, so we are just recovering from that. We received 40mm of rain last week which has really pushed covers on.

    The rain was welcome for our reseeds which we sowed in early May, with some of these soon to come back in for grazing. Any reseeds that saw a good take up in clover will be skipped with N as a trial. We’re currently spreading 15 units of 29-0-14+S on a 19-20 day round.

    Stocking Rate (cows/ha) 2.83

    Growth Rate (kg/day) 84

    Average Farm Cover (kg/cow) 235

    Yield (l/cow) 21.5

    Fat % 4.55

    Protein% 3.75

    Milk Solids (kg/cow) 1.82

    Supplement fed (kg/cow/day) 2

    Aidan Kenny – Cloghan, Co Offaly

    Growth is just about matching demand at the minute, while regrowth is still poor. We received enough rain, but the farm didn’t green up like expected.

    I’ll reassess the grass situation at the weekend, and if I don’t see an improvement the plan is to go ahead and zero graze in some of the second cut grass to buffer feed cows and try to lift covers.

    This second cut grass is not far off mowing, but it is still very leafy and a cheaper option than feeding bales. I’ve currently three paddocks of 1,500kg ahead of me, and after that we’re back down to 1,000-1,100kg covers.

    Stocking Rate (cows/ha) 3.45

    Growth Rate (kg/day) 53

    Average Farm Cover (kg/cow) 173

    Yield (l/cow) 24.85

    Fat % 4.19

    Protein% 3.71

    Milk Solids (kg/cow) 2.02

    Supplement fed (kg/cow/day) 2

    Brendan Horan – Teagasc Curtins, Co Cork

    Although we have received 60mm of rain fall in the last 10 days, the farm is slow to recover from moisture stress.

    The MSS treatment has held up growth best during the last month and averaged 50 kg/day during that period while holding pasture quality well.

    As we have all the area available for grazing, we have fed 1kg of concentrate per cow per day during the last week and we have kept the AFC up at 650kg/ha as we expect drying conditions to continue for the next 10 days.

    The rotation length is now 26 days and we are spreading no fertiliser post-grazing.

    Stocking Rate (cows/ha) 3.1

    Growth Rate (kg/day) 48

    Average Farm Cover (kg/cow) 211

    Yield (l/cow) 17.1

    Fat % 5.1

    Protein% 3.75

    Milk Solids (kg/cow) 1.63

    Supplement fed (kg/cow/day) 1