Farmers have been on the back foot all year on the grass front, with the weather being the culprit all the time. From being too wet to being too cold, it’s been nothing but a horrendous year for grazing and grass growth so far.

While air temperatures have warmed slightly over the last few days, they are still below normal for the time of the year.

A slight improvement has been seen in grass growth, though the issue is that with growth being poor in the weeks prior, there are very few decent covers of grass to maximise this.

Growth on individual farms right now will largely depend on the average farm cover, as it simply goes back to ‘grass grows grass’.

Where a farm is under pressure for grass and fertiliser has been kept up to date, lessening demand is the next step to trying to balance the scales between growth and demand.

Forward stores can be supplemented with meal at grass, or can be sold live in the ring, where good demand is being witnessed for these types.

Autumn born calves should be weaned from their dams, with grass being prioritised towards the youngstock. The autumn calving cows should be able to be kept ticking over by mopping up paddocks after youngstock, provided they are in decent body condition to start with.

Graze or save

Where there is a serious lack of grass on farm, many farmers may be torn between feeding silage or grazing some second cut ground.

In the vast majority of cases, grazing the second cut will make more sense financially, as making bales hugely increases the cost per kg DM going in to animals.

Simply put, it doesn’t make sense to feed bales in order to save grass to make bales again. You’re robbing Peter to pay Paul by doing this.

An exception of this is where second cut ground is away from home with poor handling facilities, or breeding cows being served with AI are the only stock group available and heat detection will be very difficult if cows move off farm.

In this scenario, supplementing with silage might prove a simpler option, though costly.


Shaun Diver – Tullamore Farm, Co Offaly

We are very close to feeding silage on the farm now, after such poor regrowth on paddocks over the last few weeks.

We had two paddocks earmarked for making hay, but we will now have to graze these to get us by.

We have been keeping up to date with fertiliser appplications and timing these with some rainfall to wash it in to ground, with 60 acres spread last weekend and more to do this weekend.

Our second cut ground received 2.5 bags 24-2.5-10/acre along with 2,600 gallons of slurry/acre, but this is only greened up with very little cover on it.

Lambs received their booster shot for clostridial diseases. ten lambs weighing between 45-51kg will be sold in the next week.

System Suckler to beef

Soil Type Variable

Farm cover (kg/DM/ha) 443

Growth (kg/DM/ha/day) 56

Demand (kg/DM/ha/day) 33

Stephen Frend – Newford Herd, Co Roscommon

Growth is shocking at the minute. What is aiding us right now is that the new farm here in Roscommon is slightly understocked.

If we were at our normal stocking rates, we would be grazing our second cut ground.

Cows are getting great value out of grass and are very content.

We’ve managed to avoid hitting any heavy covers, with the max covers over the last few weeks being 1,500kg-1,600kg DM/ha.

Covers are showing some stem in them, even at low covers, but cows are getting this grazed out nicely.

The reseed received its pre-emergence spray last week, which checked the growth a little, and also received a top up of N.

System Suckler to beef

Soil Type Variable

Farm cover (kg/DM/ha) 799

Growth (kg/DM/ha/day) 31

Demand (kg/DM/ha/day) 53

Peter Doyle – Derrypatrick Herd,Teagasc Grange, Co Meath

We have currently 12 days of grass ahead of us, with growth sitting below demand.

Mid-June is usually a pinch point for us, as we wait for silage ground to come back in the grazing rotation, but this has been slow to grow since being cut on 1 June.

While there has been some stem in the swards, cows have been grazing out paddocks tight to maintain sward quality for the next round.

Our red clover sward has been growing well, having been cut in early May and receiving slurry and no chemical N. It has a clover content of 60-70% at present. Grass-only paddocks received 23 units N/acre, with grass-clover swards receiving 9-10 units/acre

System Suckler to beef

Soil Type Free draining

Farm cover (kg/DM/ha) 732

Growth (kg/DM/ha/day) 46

Demand (kg/DM/ha/day) 61