The presence of long days, moisture and warm weather has resulted in grass growth rates taking off on farms in the last week.

This has resulted in a lot of farms moving from being short of grass, or worried about growth rates, to now having a surplus.

In the last number of days some farmers have been able to cut paddocks that have become too strong and make the first bales of 2022.

The improved growth rates have also meant that first-cut silage fields have seen a significant improvement in the last week.

Grass growth

The latest predicted grass growth rates from PastureBase Ireland show that grass has very much surpassed demand on farms.

According to PastureBase Ireland, growth rates are currently 75kg dry matter (DM)/ha in Leinster, 73kg DM/ha in Munster, 73kg DM/ha in Connacht and 70kg DM/ha in Ulster.

Growth rates are expected to improve over the coming days, to 93kg DM/ha in Leinster, 86kg DM/ha in Munster, 79kg DM/ha in Connacht and 98kg DM/ha in Ulster.

These growth rates are a welcome sight to farmers, as preparation for the harvesting of first-cut silage begins on farms.

Growth rates

With growth rates now being so high, covers is paddocks could quickly get too strong for grazing.

The ideal cover for cows to graze at this time of year is 1,400kg DM/ha. Covers that are stronger than this will result in a poorer clean out.

Cows entering a cover of 1,800kg of DM/ha will actually eat less, and this will ultimately affect the bulk tank.

However, the situation can quickly change on farms, so continual close monitoring of covers is important.

If a paddock becomes too strong, skip it, mow it and bale it, rather than trying to eat your way through it.

Forcing cows to eat their way through covers that are too high will result in poor clean out and lower-quality grass coming back.

Whereas mowing a paddock that has gone too strong, maintains grass quality and boosts your winter forage needs.

With growth rates being so high, it is recommended to walk your farm at least every five days, as this will allow you make the most informed decision.