Grass growth rates are still at a reasonable level for the time of year, even as winter weather starts to set in across the country.

Over the last number of days there has been a noticeable drop in temperatures, but despite this, grass growth remains steady.

Farms on lighter soil types are seeing improvements in growth rates this week, while farms on heavier soils are seeing a slight reduction in growth rates.

Grass growth

Current grass growth rates, based on figures from PastureBase Ireland, are 38kg of dry matter (DM)/ha in Leinster; 38kg of DM/ha in Munster; 38kg of DM/ha in Connacht; and 35kg of DM/ha in Ulster.

The predicated growth rates are 40kg of DM/ha for Leinster; 35kg of DM/ha for Munster; 29kg of DM/ha for Connacht; and 31kg of DM/ha for Ulster.

These predicated growth rates mean that for some areas there is a slight improvement in growth, while other areas will see a slight reduction in growth rates.

Ground conditions

Ground condition has started to become a little more tricky over the last number of days on many farms.

Because of this, it is important that farmers make best use of the grazing infrastructure that is in place on their farms.

The goal is to obtain the maximum benefit from grass, so different entrances and exits from paddocks, along with spur roadways, should be utilised.

If required, small areas of the paddock should be sacrificed rather than causing damage to larger areas of the paddock.

Where required, farmers should use on/off grazing and shouldn’t be afraid to house cows at night if needed.

The eastern part of the country, where grass growth has seen a slight improvement, ground conditions remain quite good.

This is welcomed, as many of these farms were worst hit by the drought conditions earlier this year.

Autumn targets

As farms move through October, it is important to check the progress of autumn targets for closing paddocks.

The aim is to have the first 30% of the farm grazed by October 20, but it is likely that many farms may reach this point before then.

This is due to average farm covers (AFC) that are lower than ideal.

It may be a good idea to look at how much of the farm has been grazed and closed to determine how far ahead of the target the farm is, and see if there a way to slow cows down.

Although milk prices are still quite good, any cull cows or problem cows should now be removed from the herd, which will reduce demand on the grazing platform.