We are now in May and it appears that grass growth has finally gotten the boost that it needed, and that farmers have been looking for.

Grass growth this year has been poor in many areas, up until recently, which in a year where farmers are already facing enough challenges, was unwanted.

However, it finally appears that grass growth has turned a corner in the last number of days.

Grass growth

The latest predicted grass growth from PastureBase Ireland shows that grass growth has very much surpassed demand on most farms.

According to PastureBase Ireland, growth rates are currently 57kg dry matter (DM)/ha in Leinster, 60kg DM/ha in Munster, 57kg DM/ha in Connacht and 53kg DM/ha in Ulster.

Growth rates are expected to improve over the coming days, to 88kg DM/ha in Leinster, 80kg DM/ha in Munster, 77kg DM/ha in Connacht and 85kg DM/ha in Ulster.

It is unlikely that farms will have a surplus of grass yet, but it is heading in the right direction for that to happen in the next few weeks.

Grass quality

Grass management has never been as important, with feed and input costs being so high.

Grass still remains the cheapest feed on farms and is key to the Irish production model.

So, ensuring that we maximise the benefits of grass on farms this year is important. Farmers should aim to graze paddocks at the correct covers of 1,400kg of DM/ha.

Grazing covers that are too heavy will lead to waste and poorer quality grass coming back in the next round.

Paddocks will at some point need to be tidied up; the best option for this is to mow and bale it to prevent waste.

Topping is also an option, however it involves cutting grass that should have been fed to cows.

Feeding cows high-quality grass will result in better quality milk and a better milk cheque.

The advice is to continue walking your farm every five to seven days to monitor grass growth rates and sward quality.