Grass growth remains a serious challenge on farms in many parts of country, with significant soil moisture deficits in many areas.

It has been a challenging second half of year so far, with grass growth reduced to a crawl and large amounts of silage being fed to cows.

However, there may be light at the end of the tunnel as rainfall is expected across many parts of the country over the weekend.

This will come as a welcomed relief to many – albeit not those attending the music festival Electric Picnic – as it should lead to a boost in grass growth.

Unfortunately however, even if the rain comes over the weekend it will still take a number of weeks for it to make an impact, which means that further supplementing of cows will be required for at least another few weeks on farms.

Grass growth

Current growth rates, based on figures from PastureBase Ireland, are 32kg dry matter (DM)/ha in Leinster; 32kg DM/ha in Munster; 55kg DM/ha in Connacht; and 50kg DM/ha in Ulster.

The outlook is positive, with predicated growth rates seeing a slight improvement in all areas.

The predicated growth rates are 34kg DM/ha for Leinster; 45kg DM/ha for Munster; 57kg DM/ha for Connacht; and 59kg DM/ha for Ulster.

Although the improvements are slight they will be welcomed by farmers.

Most will now be hoping that this means a continued improvement in grass growth will be seen as we head into the autumn months.

Heifer targets

Heifer calves are now six-months-old or more, and this means they have reached a milestone in their lives.

At this point of their lives heifer calves should be 30% of their mature body weight.

The most accurate way to determine if calves are on target for their mature cow weight is to look at their maintenance figure.

Based on the economic breeding index (EBI) maintenance sub-index figure, a calf’s mature cow weight can be determined.

Using this figure you can determine the weight this calf should be at six-months-old.

AgePercentage of final weight€30€20€10€0
Six months30%150kg165kg180kg195kg
15 months60%300kg330kg360kg390kg
24 months90%450kg495kg540kg585kg

Once you know how you calves are performing you can determine if future feeding is required or not.