Silage has been on the tip of most farmers’ tongues for the past week.

The weather finally played ball, with the majority of farmers getting their first cut ensiled. But farmers on heavier land are still waiting for their land to dry out enough.

Very little rain is forecast for the week ahead, which will give these farmers a great chance to build their silage reserves again.

Growth rates increased last week from the high pressure that pushed in over the bank holiday weekend, with the average growth rate across the country of 65kg DM/ha.

However, the outlook for the next week doesn’t look as good, with cold air pushing down from the north which will slow down grass growth.

If you are below 150kg DM/LU and pre grazing yields start to drop under 1,200kg DM/ha, hold rotation at 21 days, increase the grazing area or introduce extra supplement.

Monitor average farm cover, cover/LU and rotation length every five days in this cold spell.

Aim for a cover/LU of 170-200kg DM/LU. A lot of paddocks may have poor quality grass on them at present, but try to avoid correcting all paddocks in this rotation as this will drop growth rates by 20-30kg DM/ha and may leave you with a grass shortage in 10 days.

Clover will be coming into its own from now on, and should be capable of providing nearly all of the nitrogen required for lower stocked farms and the majority of nitrogen for the higher stocked farms.

Clover has gone through a harsh autumn last year and spring of this year, so it would be advisable to access the clover content of the sward to see if there’s enough clover to cut back on nitrogen.


  • Target pre-grazing covers of 1,400–1,500kg DM/ha.
  • Aim for a cover/LU of 170-200kg DM/LU in this cold spell.
  • Topping should only be done as a last resort, and must be done the day animals leave the paddock to avoid hitting regrowth.
  • Make sure you have clover safe spray in the yard in advance of when your reseed needs it (six weeks from date of sowing).
  • Farmers

    Tim Quinn – Clogher and Ballintubber, Co Mayo

    Cows are on 36/hr allocations, grazing covers of 1,600-1,700kg DM/ha. I’m happy with grazing residuals, considering there’s a lot of stem at the base.

    With cold weather forecast, we felt the need to graze these higher covers to avoid the farm cover slipping.

    Over the last two weeks we’ve taken out some surplus paddocks for bales, but we will hold off in taking out any more until some heat returns.

    Some of the poorest quality paddocks will be topped after grazing.

    Clover paddocks don’t seem to be thriving as well this year. To date they’ve received 50 units of nitrogen but will get a bag of 0-7-30 the next round to help improve growth.

    Stocking Rate (cow/ha) 4

    Growth Rate (kg/day) 60

    Average Farm Cover (kg/cow) 162

    Yield (l/cow) 25.6

    Fat% 4.41

    Protein% 3.60

    Milk Solids (kg/cow) 2.11

    Concentrates 2

    Colm O’Leary – Blarney, Co Cork

    Quality is excellent,with pre grazing covers of 1,300-1,450kg Dm/ha ahead of the cows. Things were tight three weeks ago and cows were grazing lower covers, which meant cleanouts were perfect.

    Cows are on 36/hr allocations but 15% of the paddock is kept back for the last grazing. We plan on blanket spreading the milking platform with a bag of 18-6-12 for the next round.

    Clover paddocks that couldn’t be grazed early in the year have suffered, with one third of my good clover paddocks last year (>35% composition) being hit the hardest.

    Our main crop of silage will be cut by the time you sit down to read this.

    Stocking Rate (cow/ha) 3.6

    Growth Rate (kg/day) 75

    Average Farm Cover (kg/cow) 154

    Yield (l/cow) 24.9

    Fat% 4.35

    Protein% 3.56

    Milk Solids (kg/cow) 2.03

    Concentrates 2

    Cathal Dunne – Borris-in-Ossory, Co Laois

    We are in our fifth week of the breeding season and things are going well. Our three-week submission rate was 94%, and the amount that are repeating daily is extremely low.

    Our pre grazing covers are between 1,400-1,500kg DM/ha and residuals are hitting the target of 4-4.5 cm. Grass quality is very good, with only a handful of paddocks needing to be topped.

    Silage ground was mowed down Monday, and we hope to get it picked up on Wednesday.

    We have enough slurry to apply 2,500 gallons per acre on the silage ground, and we will top it up with 65 units per acre of protected urea and sulphur.

    Stocking Rate (cow/ha) 4.5

    Growth Rate (kg/day) 64

    Average Farm Cover (kg/cow) 134

    Yield (l/cow) 19

    Fat% 4.68

    Protein% 3.90

    Milk Solids (kg/cow) 1.68

    Concentrates 4.5