A wet and windy May fills the barn with corn and hay – and it certainly looks to be that way this year. Much of the country has had rain in the last week and now that soil temperatures are in the mid- to high-teens, grass growth continues to surge.
Some parts of the country were hit with torrential rainfall earlier in the week and it seemed to be quite localised with some areas being badly effected while a mile down the road saw little or no rainfall at all.
Where heavy rainfall was experienced, it will have made grazing conditions quite difficult for 24 to 48 hours but this should be short lived once ground gets a chance to soak once again.
Growth rates on most farms will be north of 60kgDM/ha with many experiencing growth rates in excess of 80kgDM/ha where soil fertility is good and there is nitrogen in the system.
Looking at it simply, with the average drystock farm having a daily demand of around 30kgDM/ha to 40kgDM/ha, it means that the farm is currently growing double the amount of grass required each day.
This means that surpluses are building on most farms and will need to be take out as baled silage in order to maintain grazing quality ahead of stock. Stock should be entering pre-grazing swards of 1400kgDM/ha which is a 9.5cm – 10cm pre grazing sward height.
In reality stock are entering much higher covers at the moment on many farms. The downside of this is that growth rates will be compromised slightly where stock are forced to graze out these swards.
The other problem with this is that the rotation length will increase as stock are moving across ground more slowly. This means paddocks further into the rotation will also be too strong by the time stock get to graze them.
On farms planning to make first-cut silage in the next week, these strong paddocks could be let grow on until the main crop of silage is being cut for simplicity.
However, on farms where the first cut is still a fortnight or more away, these paddocks should be cut and baled now, as leaving them out of the rotation for this length will leave yourself tight for grass by the time they are back available for grazing.
Wesley Browne – Dunraymond, Co Monaghan
I made 200 bales of first cut silage over the course of last weekend. It was ground that wasn’t grazed in spring and so we fertilised it for an early cut of silage. It should be good quality stuff.
There is surplus grass appearing all over the farm and I have taken a number of paddocks out for baling to keep grazing quality under control. There are more paddocks fit for cutting as well as more first cut silage to cut once we get a window of opportunity with the weather.
Heavy rainfall Monday and Tuesday saw ground conditions become more difficult, but hopefully if we get over this week things will improve once again. Breeding looks to be progressing nicely, I have seen a lot of activity from the bulls in the last two weeks.
System Suckler to beef
Soil type Heavy
Farm cover (kg DM/ha) 748
Growth (kg DM/ha/day) 76
Demand (kg DM/ha/day) 44
Brian Geraghty – Dysart, Co Roscommon
Growth has been superb over the last two weeks. We had heavy rain on Monday but it was probably needed to keep moisture in the ground.
Nitrogen rates on the grazing ground have been reduced significantly so far this year, but I spread a lot of lime in spring and it is definitely having a positive effect on grass growth. I have three paddocks pulled out for baling, about eight acres in total as they are gone too strong for grazing.
First cut silage will hopefully be made next week if the weather allows. All the stock on the farm are young, growing animals so I need to have good quality silage in the yard. With the price of concentrates set to be high this winter, the quality of silage becomes all the more important.
System Dairy calf to beef
Soil type Variable
Farm cover (kg DM/ha) 786
Growth (kg DM/ha/day) 64
Demand (kg DM/ha/day) 47
Declan Marren – THRIVE Farm, Co Tipperary
Grass growth has been double demand for the last two weeks which has seen a huge surplus of grass appear on the farm. Five paddocks, or just under 16 acres of the grazing ground was cut last Friday and baled on Saturday, yielding 120 bales or 7.5 bales per acre.
The main first cut silage ground is now ready for harvest and will be cut in the coming days once weather conditions are favourable.The oldest batch of calves are weaned at this stage and are at grass full time.
They are on leafy grass but have access to a bale of straw for fibre and it is amazing how much they are eating of it. They are also getting 1kg/head/day concentrate at grass. The next oldest batch of calves will be weaned in the coming week.
System Dairy calf to beef
Soil type Mostly dry
Farm cover (kg DM/ha) 993
Growth (kg DM/ha/day) 85
Demand (kg DM/ha/day) 42