This week saw another round of on-farm meetings start for this year’s participants in the Irish Farmers Journal grassland management course.

Each month, the group attends a meeting on a host farm to learn the basics of measuring grass and the decisions that can be made based on the figures.

This week was a turning point for many, as following low growth rates for the previous three to four weeks, the rain last weekend has seen growth rates climb steadily.

Reduced demand

Demand was reduced to match low growth rates and this was done by replacing grass in the diet with concentrates and, in some cases, silage.

The level of supplementation was very varied across all farms, largely depending on soil type and the rainfall over the last month.

As growth has started to recover, a big talking point this week was around when to reduce the level of supplementation.

This really depends on how fast growth rates recover.

Dairy cows grazing in the sun near Lisheen, Skibbereen, Co Cork.

As of 8 July, the average growth rates as recorded on Pasture Base Ireland (PBI) in each of the provinces were as follows: Ulster 57kg DM/ha/day; Connacht 56kg DM/ha/day; and both Munster and Leinster averaging 52kg DM/ha/day.

These growth rates are predicted to rise as we head into next week.

Variable growth

As growth is variable from farm to farm, it will depend on the growth on each individual farm as to how fast supplementation can be reduced.

Once average farm cover is above 550kg DM/ha and C/LU is between 160kg DM/LU and 180kg DM/LU, you can start to reduce supplementation and increase demand in line with growth.

Matching growth and demand will hold average farm cover.

A farm walk every five days is vital over the next couple of weeks as growth picks up.

It is important to maintain target pre-grazing covers and reduce expensive supplementation as quickly as possible.