Growth rates this week have again surpassed the 10-year average for this time of the year.
An average of 61kg DM/day was recorded on PastureBase Ireland over the last seven days. Although growth is holding in most areas, there are parts of the east and southeast where it is slowing.
The rain forecast for last weekend never materialised in most areas. This has meant some farmers have had to start feeding silage or zero-grazed grass to stop average farm cover (AFC) falling below target.
The closing date for fertiliser applications is fast approaching. If you have not completed the last round of fertiliser at this stage, spread 25 to 30 units of nitrogen per acre.
The dry weather over the last number of weeks has meant achieving good grazeouts has been possible, even where covers have been high due to good growth rates. The benefits of good grazeouts at this time of the year will really be seen in the next rotation.
The target is to build covers to keep cows and cattle out on grass for as long as possible. Pre-grazing covers will be high in the next round and achieving good grazeouts will promote winter growth and mean there is good-quality grass available in the spring.
It is important to walk the farm weekly to assess growth and grass availability at this time of the year. By setting up an autumn grass budget you can make timely decisions that will allow you to keep grass in the diet for as long as possible.
If there is surplus grass on the farm, it must be removed as soon as possible to make the most of good growth rates for its recovery.
Jack Kearney – Rathcormac, Co Cork
Grass growth has been excellent over the last while. We are ahead of target and will try to avoid going above an AFC of 1,200kg DM/ha. Last year we built to an AFC of 1,300kg DM/ha which was too high but we still managed to get through all the grass even with a lower stocking rate. Pre-grazing covers for the next couple of days are 2,300kg DM/ha. The last round of fertiliser went out in the last few days of August – we went with two bags of 18-6-12 per acre on the milking platform. The silage ground got just over one bag of 18-6-12 per acre and the heifers are grazing that ground now.
Sean Roberts – Old Ross, Co Wexford
Growth rates have been good up to now but we do need rain soon. At the moment we are following the cows with just over one bag of 27-2.5-5 per acre and over the weekend we will blanket spread anywhere not spread yet. Pre-grazing yields are 1,700kg DM/ha. Grazeouts are excellent even on the heavier covers as grass quality is very good. We plan to have 70% of the farm closed by 1 November and the remaining 30% closed by mid-November depending on the weather. The breeding season ran for 12 weeks this year and we plan to do a final scan in two weeks.
Bill Brown – Newtownards, Co Down
Grass growth has been very good over the last number of weeks. Two weeks ago we took out a number of paddocks for bales and they are nearly ready to be grazed again. The cows are currently going into pre-grazing covers of around 1,800kg DM/ha and given the conditions grazeouts have been good. We are getting ready for the autumn-calvers to start calving. We have 70 due to calve in September and 50 in October. We usually close the farm by the end of October. Closing early allows us build covers for spring. We usually get to grass in February with a high demand due to the autumn-calvers.
Matthew Murphy – Newford Herd, Athenry
It has been a textbook few weeks here for grass growth and utilisation. We are taking out two paddocks as surplus grass this week which we wouldn’t normally do in September but growth is very strong. There is about 20ac left to get a bag of CAN. The cows were scanned on Monday with 94% in-calf in a 10-week breeding period. The calves received their pneumonia vaccination and a worm dose this week in preparation for weaning in late September. They are being offered meal in a creep feeder in paddocks ahead of the cows to encourage them to creep graze. There are 44 heifers getting 4kg/day meal at grass. We will start to draft them for slaughter in the next few weeks.
Declan Marren – THRIVE demonstration farm, Cashel, Co Tipperary
Demand for grass is dropping on farm now we have started feeding the finishing cattle meal at grass. We now have 53 of the 140 finishing cattle drafted for slaughter. So far the bullocks have an average carcase weight of 307kg while the heifers are averaging 268kg. Slaughter age is down on last year, with cattle almost a month younger at drafting so far. Average farm cover is increasing although growth on farm has slowed over the last week with the dry conditions. Calves are very content at grass and are thriving well. They are due their second pneumonia vaccine in a week’s time and we will weigh at this point.
Willie Treacy – Hackballscross, Co Louth
Grass is flying here – probably as good as it has been all year. We had to feed a lot of silage during the summer with the lack of growth but everything is getting levelled out now. I will have to cut around 20ac of surplus grass in the coming days which will see winter silage supplies secured. I weighed the cows and calves for BEEP-S lately and calves are gaining 1.35kg/day across bulls and heifers so I am happy with that. In the dry spell I feared the calves had slowed up but perhaps they have compensated since. I will be starting meal feeding to calves in the coming weeks but I try to keep the calves on the cow as long as possible so I won’t start weaning until late-October.