Grass growth in the east of the country has been particularly affected by the lack of rain over the last number of weeks.

Although variable rainfall this week has been a help to some areas, there has not been enough to make a big difference in others.

A growth rate of 40kg DM/day is predicted in Carlow, which is the lowest in the country.

Growth rates in other areas are still ahead of the 10-year average for this time of the year.

The predicted growth rate for Westmeath is 66kg DM/day, which is the highest in the country.

Grass budgets

On farm this week with some of this year’s Irish Farmers Journal grassland management course groups, we revised the autumn grass budgets that were set up last month.

The target moves to hitting peak average farm cover (AFC) of 1,000kg DM/ha to 1,200kg DM/ha by mid-September, depending on stocking rate.

In the majority of cases, given the higher than normal growth rates recorded over the last number of weeks, grass is plentiful on farms. In these cases, it is important not to let AFC get too far ahead of target.

Reducing meal

If ahead of target, start by reducing the level of meal in the diet or by bringing young stock back on to the platform.

Where AFC is over 100kg DM/ha above target, you may need to remove surplus grass by baling some paddocks.

It is inevitable that growth rates will start to slow over the coming weeks due to changes in the weather and shorter daylight hours.

Cutting surplus grass as soon as possible will mean you get the most out of the current growth rates and speed up the recovery of paddocks that are cut.

On farms that are behind target, we reassessed the budget and looked at reducing demand by getting younger stock off the platform or by culling empty or problem cows.

The next option is to reduce demand by increasing meal and feeding silage. By reacting now, you can benefit from high growth rates and get grass back on target faster.