There is huge variation in growth rates across the country at present. According to PastureBase Ireland data, average growth rates over the past three weeks have fallen by 30% (81 – 57 kg DM/ha). Met Eireann shows soil moisture deficits in the West and Northwest of 23-24mm (growth unaffected), however, in the East and Southeast, deficits range from 45-61 mm. Growth will be affected if soil moisture deficits are between 30-50mm. Greater than this figure and growth will substantially decline.
- Hold the rotation at 22-24 days. Aim to hold average farm cover above 500 kg DM/ha (8-10 days of grass ahead) and cover/cow ˃ 180 kg DM/ha.
- Where a deficit occurs, the gap must be filled to hold the rotation.
- Where silage ground can be accessed for grazing, an area of second cut can be offered to the grazing herd if the cover is <2500 kg DM/ha. We recommend strip-grazing to achieve better grass utilisation.
Practical considerations on farm:
- A round bale of silage (30%DM) weighing 650-700 kg will contain approx. 190-210 kg of dry matter.
- The availability of space at the barrier is essential when buffer feeding low quantities of silage/meal.
- To stretch the rotation to 24 days, we can only allocate 1.38 ha/day (divide the platform by the desired length of the rotation).
- To bridge the current gap, we need to supplement with 7 kg dry matter (of concentrate/straights or forages) (2 kg currently being fed, and now 5 kg of a deficit shown in the graph above).
- Where grass quality is poor or if there is average quality silage available, increase meal feeding to 5 kg in the diet via parlor. Silage should be high-quality surplus bales – a round bale of silage containing approx. 200 kg of DM, 1 bale will feed 57 cows/day in this scenario.
Further help and advice
Every farm is different, therefore for farm-specific scenarios, seek tailored advice from the Agritech advisory team. For more information on this, contact your local Agritech Sales Advisor.