Grass starts to take off as summer finally arrives

Finally, summer seems to have arrived.

It seems that 2013 decided to skip spring! It’s amazing how quickly grass growth takes off when air and soil temperatures rise. It’s not surprising that grass has taken off as almost all farmers had put plenty of Nitrogen out trying to boost growth during the poor weather. Much of it was just sitting there ready for take-off once conditions improved.

Many have reported growth rates of 70 Kg/DM/ha or more over the last week.

Although growth is good, many are still in a grass deficit situation. As a very basic rule of thumb you need 10 days of grass ahead of you on any one day.

If you don’t have 10 days of grass ahead of you, then the supplementation of stock with concentrates is still very necessary. The major issue for most farmers is that, during the poor weather, growth was very poor, which meant that a lot of farmers’ paddocks had very similar covers when growth improved.

This has resulted in a large number of paddocks having the same or similar covers. But you can’t graze them all on the one day. It is important to try and graze appropriate covers in order to maintain quality as well as to optimise animal performance.

Management of damaged/poached grassland

For most farmers, ground conditions are now perfect. Any repair of swards necessary should be done while soil conditions are good.

Many are stitching in grass seed where poaching has occurred. Many are putting off reseeding due to economic reasons, it always pays for itself so make it a priority where you are dealing with underperforming swards.

What are ideal grazing covers?

Many factors need to be taken into consideration when identifying the ideal cover for your farm. Of course, every farm is slightly different, but here are the typical factors for ideal cover:

*Stocking Rate

*Paddock Size

*Land Conditions

*Soil Fertility

*Weather Conditions

*Growth Rates achieved

*Time of year

Typically, however, covers of between 1,200 and 1,500 Kg/DM/ha would be seen as a very acceptable range.

Breeding Season

The breeding season is now in its second month on most spring suckler herds.

Make sure that you have good records for heat detection in order to identify non- cycling cows as early as possible. Many suckler herds are now following their dairy neighbours in scanning their cows. Scanning cows at this stage will help to tighten up the calving pattern and identify cows needing intervention.