Slowing grass growth and getting 2020 grazing ready

Grass growth has virtually hit a standstill – across the country – with growth rates on average standing at 5kg DM/ha.

On a prince-by-province basis, PastureBase Ireland figures are showing 4kg DM/ha in Ulster, 6kg DM/ha in Leinster, 4kg DM/ha in Connacht and 6kg DM/ha in Munster.

Nationally, according to PastureBase Ireland, growth rate – on average – over the winter is 4kg of DM/ha; however, heavier soils may experience lower growth for an average winter.

Once a closing cover has been calculated, knowing the average grass growth for your farm over the winter will allow you to predict your opening cover in the spring.

For instance, if your closing cover was 700kg DM/ha on December 1 and the winter growth rate is 5kg DM/ha over a 60-day winter that will leave you with an approximate opening cover of 1,000kg DM/ha.

Knowing your opening cover will allow you to set up a grass budget and a spring rotation planner (SRP) for your farm next spring. Now and not next spring is the best time to do this – even a rough plan for now should suffice.

Getting grazing ready

Moreover, the downtime between now and next spring should give you enough time to get set up for grazing this spring.

Make sure all reels are working correctly and all posts are gathered up ready to go for grazing this spring.

Think about where you are likely to graze first; think about which paddocks will have the heaviest covers; and think about those which may be difficult to graze.

Then answer the following questions:
  • Could any improvements be made in terms of my grazing infrastructure?
  • Would another gap/entrance be beneficial?
  • Would installing a spur roadway help?
  • Are all my roadways up to scratch?
  • Could another drinker or moving an existing drinker help with grazing next spring?

Every day grazing in the spring is worth €2.70/cow/day; so ensure everything is ready for grazing come spring 2020 to maximise the amount of grazed grass in your herd’s diet, in turn increasing overall farm profitability.