Grass growth rates have returned to more levels more normal for the time of year, after a number of weeks of drought-like conditions.

The last number of weeks have been a challenge for farmers, with many having to use fodder supplies to keep cows fed and maintain rotation length.

Although some farms are continuing to feed while average farm cover builds, many have been able to stop as growth rates have increased significantly.

But this has also posed an issue with grass quality, with many farms having a large amount of poor-quality stemmy grass present in swards.

Grass growth

The latest figures from PastureBase Ireland show current growth rates of 42kg of dry matter (DM)/ha for Leinster, 52kg of DM/ha for Munster, 52kg of DM/ha for Connacht and 45kg of DM/ha for Ulster.

The recent rain has resulted in an increase growth rates, with further increases predicted over the coming days.

There are growth rates of 66kg of DM/ha forecast for Leinster, 69kg of DM/ha for Munster, 71kg of DM/ha for Connacht and 67kg of DM/ha for Ulster.

This means a return to more normal growth rates for the time of year, which will be welcome as many farms will be hoping to harvest second-cut silage crops in the coming weeks.


The next few weeks should hopefully see many farms harvesting their second-cut silage crops.

But the question for many farmers will be if a third cut is needed as the making of surplus silage bales has been limited this year on most farms.

Reduced growth rates meant that many farms we unable to take out paddocks for bales and many were instead feeding bales to cows.

This means that for many farms, silage supplies are likely to be much lower than in previous years and a third cut may be needed to ensure sufficient supplies are available.

A fodder budget needs to be completed on farms to determine current, and predicted supplies after second cut.

Once that has been determined the amount of third cut or area that needs to be closed can be worked out.

A third cut is likely going to be needed on many farms, to ensure enough fodder is present on farms and that extra silage is available if needed.