Ground conditions deteriorating as the weather takes its toll
Soil moisture deficits have been, more or less, wiped out in the Cavan/Monaghan region with the recent weather conditions, according to Teagasc dairy adviser Trevor Dunwoody.
“There was a lot of heavy rain in the border area over the weekend and the prospects for the coming days are not good,” he said.
“As a consequence, grazing paddocks will start to cut up. This can impact on grass availability for cows.”
Dunwoody advises that milk producers must ensure that their cows are fed properly at all times regardless of the weather conditions.
“I am also mindful that, on the back of falling milk prices, this must be achieved in ways that minimise input costs.
“In the first instance, cows can be kept in for an hour or so after milking and fed high quality baled silage. Given the grass growing season to date, most milk producers should have access to high quality conserved forage.
“This approach will help compensate for the drop in dry mater levels within freshly grazed grass, which in some cases will have fallen to 12%.”
In the event of the weather deteriorating further, Dunwoody confirmed that milk producers should revert to Teagasc’s three-hour: on/off grazing policy.
“Research carried out at Moorepark has shown that cows will secure 90% of their dry matter intakes from grass within the first three hours of them entering a grazing area,” he said.
“In practical terms, this means that farmers can put their cows out for three hours after morning milking and for a similar period again in the evening, without destroying the fabric of their grazing swards.
“While indoors, the cows can then be offered high dry matter silage. Feeding extra concentrates can also be considered. But this will have a cost implication.
“The poor weather which is currently impacting on the country, also highlights the absolute necessity for milk producers to have a good road network established on their farms.”