Grass growth: Continuing to fall across the country

The wet and miserable conditions continued over the weekend and now into this week – across the country – making any further grazing extremely difficult for those who have not yet fully-housed.

According to Met Éireann, the east of the country seems to be the worst affected with three times the weekly average rainfall recorded in parts of Leinster.

Elsewhere, rainfall amounts were close to average. Unfortunately, there is no let up in sight as Met Éireann is predicting a fairly wet week with rainfall totals of between 20mm and 40mm.

Also Read: Cold frosty week in store with risk of wintry showers

Moreover, grass growth seems to have taken another dip with average grass growth for the country – this week – dropping to 12kg DM/ha; from 16kg DM/ha last week.

On a province-by-province basis, PastureBase Ireland figures are showing 13kg DM/ha in Ulster, 13kg DM/ha in Leinster, 7kg DM/ha in Connacht and 15kg DM/ha in Munster.

Where grazing has not ceased, it is important to keep assessing where you are in terms of your average farm cover (AFC).

If it has dropped significantly – below where you plan to be on December 1 – it may be time to ‘pull the plug’. Particularly if it has reached on or below 500kg of DM/ha – then it is time to stop grazing.

Teagasc studies have shown that every day you delay closing in the autumn, it reduces spring grass availability by 12kg DM/ha.

On the other hand, where grazing conditions are difficult, but there are still high covers to be grazed, these areas should be grazed off if at all possible – as the quality of those paddocks will deteriorate very quickly over the winter.

Revert back to some grazing techniques to try and get these grazed off before closing – while avoiding damage.

Grazing techniques:
  • Use on-off grazing;
  • Graze in blocks using a strip wire;
  • Use good grazing infrastructure to your advantage – such as multiple access points;
  • Use spur roadways.

If worse comes to worse, these heavy covers could be grazed off using lighter stock – such as weanlings – or left to be grazed the following spring.

The same goes for paddocks not on the milking platform, although grazing some areas may not be worth it at this stage.

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