Grass growth rates back 40% on Teagasc PastureBase farms

Last week’s grass growth rates were back 40% compared to the same week in 2015, according to Teagasc’s Micheal O’Leary.

The Teagasc PastureBase Co-ordinator was speaking at the Irish Grassland Association’s beef conference in Co. Limerick today.

O’Leary said that grass growth rates have been slow this spring on farms using Teagasc’s PastureBase grass measuring software due to the cold and harsh weather.

“On average PastureBase farmers are growing 35kg DM/day, which is back 40% on last year.

“As a result of the cold snap we are not getting the same growth rates that we seen last year. Last year these farmers were growing 60kg DM/ha/day,” he said.

Spring grass is extremely valuable and is worth 16c/kg DM, due to reduced feed and housing costs, he said.

The slow growth rates have been a problem on farms and farmers have only been able to get stock out to grass over the last couple of weeks.

But, despite the lower growth rates the grass quality of grass on farms this year is very good and farmers are achieving a 90-95% utilisation rate, he said.

Managing grass growth

He also said that farmers who have not applied Nitrogen (N) yet should spread fertiliser as soon as possible to give grass growth a much need boost.

O’Leary also said that there is huge variation in the amount of grass grown on farms in the spring time with some farmers growing three times more grass than others.

Spring grass is the most valuable grass that you can grow on your farm as the farm is in a deficit.

“Farmers that finished the first round before April 10 grew +200kg DM/ha,” he said.

The Teagasc representative said that autumn management is key to the amount of grass available on farms in the spring time.

“If you keep stock out to long your are going to bring your covers down and as a result you will have to increase the supplementation in the spring,” he said.