We are currently experiencing a huge variation in growth rates across the country. Average growth rates in drier areas have fallen dramatically, with average growth rates recorded on PastureBase down to 32kg DM/ha/day for Leinster and Munster (50-55kg for Connacht & Ulster). However, in regions where drought conditions have been prolonged, growth rates as low as 20 kg DM/ha are being recorded. Met Eireann shows soil moisture deficits currently ranging from 50-70+ mm in affected areas (30-50mm growth declines, greater than this growth is significantly hampered), signalling that a significant level of rainfall would be required to get growth levels back on track.
Forecasted rain at the weekend will be very welcomed, however, in most areas where a severe deficit is occurring, a plan to allow for 2-3 weeks of recovery must be in place to ensure sufficient grass is kept available.
Grassland management advice in a deficit:
Filling the gap:
Options for filling the deficit will be farm specific in most cases and will depend on facilities and fodder options in place on farm (example: feed barrier for buffering, feeding equipment, availability of high-quality silage etc.). Milk output/stage of lactation of the herd must also be considered when calculating requirements.
Two on-farm scenarios (100 cow herd, stocking rate 3.0 cows/ha)
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 barrier space is essential when buffer feeding low quantities of silage/meal at the barrier.
- It is also worthwhile where a deficit is occurring, and in many cases, where silage is being fed for prolonged periods and/or where silage blocks have had to be grazed; to conduct a fodder budget as soon as possible to plan for winter forage provisions.
For further advice on managing through soil moisture deficits, please contact your local Agritech Sales Advisor.