Managing grass and cows in this weather
What a week! There has been good growth rates, cows have been milking well and surpluses arising. This week we grew 90kg and, as our demand is 57kg, this is led to a surplus – perfect timing as a few paddocks have gone very stemmy, even though they were grazed out well last round. Surplus bales will be taken out immediately as allowing them to accumulate more cover could potentially lead to a deficit in 10-12 days.
The dry weather may reduce growth rates on sandy soils this week as soil begins to crack and dry out. Providing grass is not stressing and shooting up a high proportion of stem, allow cover per cow to accumulate, (>=200kg/cow) which will extend the rotation to circa 25 days. During warm, dry weather cows intakes are reduced as they are using less energy to maintain their body temperature etc. It is easy to graze out paddocks fully as cows are so settled; however, calculate how much feed is in the paddock and the number of grazings this will support.
Lungworm dosing is required now, our cows have just started to show signs of lungworm, coughing early in the morning. Pour on de wormer available, slightly expensive but it is necessary. There is no accurate test to identify it but talk to your vet if you are unsure whether to dose or not. Second lactation animals will all need dosing for worms now (if not done since turnout), some farmers think that they develop a huge worm tolerance once they calf down… not the case!
Second cut silage fertiliser
Second cut silage requires 80 units N, 15 units Phosphorous and 30-40 units Potassium. This is in addition to 2,000 gallons slurry per acre. It is impossible to get bulk without applying sufficient K as high levels of potassium are used in stem development. Soil analysis will dictate the exact nutrient application required but this is a guideline, no P will be required if P index is mid 3 or above. On low K soils, apply the necessary K for the crop, apply additional K for soil fertility building post cutting to ensure no voluntary uptake leading to high K silage, causing issues for dry cows during the winter.
Cathal McAleer is a grassland consultant working with individual farmers and facilitating discussion groups throughout Ireland.
087 160 2491 / 0044 7749 531679 [email protected]