Grass growth rates remain high on farms which, if sustained further, may pose a challenge.

The growth rates that have been experienced on most farms in the last numbers of weeks have been nothing short of exceptional.

But sustained, high growth rates pose a challenge, with grass quality on some farms starting to head in the wrong direction.

Grass growth

According to PastureBase Ireland, it looks like the good growth rates are to continue for another few days.

According to PastureBase Ireland, growth rates are currently 71kg dry matter (DM)/ha in Leinster, 67kg DM/ha in Munster, 68kg DM/ha in Connacht and 71kg DM/ha in Ulster.

This is expected to improve further over the coming days, to 92kg DM/ha in Leinster, 84kg DM/ha in Munster, 79kg DM/ha in Connacht and 92kg DM/ha in Ulster.

Grass quality

The high growth has resulted in some covers being too strong to graze, which is why walking your farm at least twice a week is important.

The growth rates have also resulted in a lot of grass being stemmy, thus reducing the quality of grass.

Cows are picky eaters and will always eat the leafy grass ahead of the stemmy grass – which will result in poor clean outs being achieved.

The question many farmers will be asking now, is what to do with grass swards that have become too steamy?

Pre-mowing is an option, but this removes a cow’s option to pick the leafy grass over the stemmy grass. This often results in reduced production from cows.

Topping after the cows is also an option, but this is wasted grass.

The best option for stemmy paddocks is to mow and make bales. This means grass is not wasted and instead, is added to the winter fodder supply.