The growth figures have certainly taken their seasonal dip this week, though it is more due to cold northern winds and low nighttime temperatures, than a lack of moisture that is usually attributed to the slump. Farmers across the country have been echoing the same message to me: while anything with grass is growing okay, anything that was recently grazed or mowed is very slow to bounce back. It comes back to the phrase ‘grass grows grass’, which is why it’s as important as ever to hold farm cover at an acceptable level. For drystock farmers, farm cover should not drop below 550kg DM/ha, as doing so will result in the rotation being too short, which will exasperate a shortage of grass.

What will have to be done on a lot of farms is that less-than-ideal covers will have to be grazed. Grass has stemmed out this year at relatively low covers , likely due to grass being stressed. These stemmier covers will have to be grazed, and if a residual is left then this can be corrected when growth recovers. Strip wires should be used to maximise the cleanouts, and when the balance is gotten right between allocation and appetite, cattle should be relatively happy.

With the forecasted showery and warmer conditions, growth should improve for many. Once heavy rain isn’t forecast for 24 hours , chemical fertiliser or slurry can go out on to paddocks to push on growth further.

John Dunne, Portarlington, Co Offaly

Grass is back under control now after a terrible spring. Some surplus paddocks were taken out alongside the first cut and were pitted to correct pre-grazing covers. This ground has been topped up with half-bag urea/acre, with the main grazing block blanket spread with 30 units N/acre, with this being the first application of fertiliser on this. Two-thirds of our slurry is out on the ground cut for silage, with the remaining slurry held off for out newly sown red clover crop later in the year. The silage ground has been topped up with 45-50 units N/acre alongside the slurry. Overall, the farm is in a comfortable position and we now have stock going in to good-quality swards, in an effort to push on weight gains in calves after spring.

System: Suckler/ dairy calf to beef

Soil Type: Free draining

Farm cover (kg/DM/ha): 927

Growth (kg/DM/ha/day): 54

Demand (kg/DM/ha/day): 36

Ger McSweeney, Milstreet, Co Cork

Grass growth has been poor over the last week and looks to be getting worse. I have cattle split into two bunches; one grazing leafy 1,500-1,600kg DM/ha covers with the other bunch grazing some stronger covers at 2,000kg DM/ha +. Stock is content with the dry weather, and calves are creep grazing ahead of cows. I would normally bale these out, but my wedge on Pasturebase is showing a hole in the middle due to poor regrowth on anything that was recently cut or grazed. Baling these paddocks out now could result in them having to be fed back to stock. All silage ground received 2,000 gallons slurry/acre, with some of this destined for grazing being topped up with 23 units N/acre. I have to decide yet how much silage to take for a second cut.

System : Suckler to weanling

Soil Type: Variable

Farm cover (kg/DM/ha): 714

Growth (kg/DM/ha/day): 43

Demand (kg/DM/ha/day): 46

William Treacy, Hackballscross, Co Louth

Heat is needed at this point, with anything that was grazed or cut for silage very slow to come back. What was cut for silage three weeks ago should have a cover on it fit for grazing, but hasn’t that right now.

I mowed and baled out one paddock this week, and would ideally like to mow out more, but with growth as it is I would be likely pushing myself into a scenario of feeding silage in a week or two’s time. Cattle are grazing these stronger paddocks out fairly well, and any paddock that they might be leaving a heavy residual on are being mopped up with autumn-calving cows. Stock is very content overall with the high dry matter of grass, though grass looks stressed owing likely to the cold and dry conditions.

System: Suckler to beef

Soil Type: Variable

Farm cover (kg/DM/ha): 944

Growth (kg/DM/ha/day): 60

Demand (kg/DM/ha/day): 77