Grass growth: Hoping for a speedy recovery

Growth rates took a knock last week – in some parts of the country – due to the lack of rain and soil moisture deficits (SMDs) experienced.

SMDs are highest in the southern half of the country – ranging between 55mm and 70mm – with grass growth worst affected in this area.

However, this is set to improve as, according to Met Éireann, the “coming week’s rainfall profile is likely to be above normal or well above normal due to the expected unsettled conditions forecast”; so it is anticipated that these SMDs will reduce over the coming week.

This is very positive as AgriLand is getting reports of some farmers resorting to buffer-feeding silage in order to reduce the demand on their farms.

In terms of average grass growth rates, PastureBase Ireland figures are showing 72kg DM/ha in Ulster, 62kgDM/ha in Leinster, 64kg DM/ha in Connacht and 60kg DM/ha in Munster.

A close eye should be kept on grass growth; once grass growth rates improve supplementation being fed should be reduced and demand matched to grass growth. Walk the farm twice weekly to monitor grass growth rates.

For example: Three cows/ha, eating approximately 16kg of grass, equates to a demand of 48kg of DM/ha. If growth equals 50kg of DM/ha, only minimal supplementation is required.

Advice in low growth rates

If low grass growth rates (less than 40kg of DM/ha) persist, increase rotation length to greater than 25 days.

Any surplus paddocks which have been closed for silage should be reintroduced into the rotation. Graze using a strip wire if the cover is greater than 1,700kg of DM/ha.

Finally, increase meal being fed so that you don’t run down your average farm cover. If silage is required, feed your highest quality bales.

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