Ballyhaise Research Farm, Co Cavan
This year has been a very good grass year in most parts of Cavan and Ballyhaise is no exception. The farm has grown 12.7 t DM / ha to date with 30% of area reseeded as part of our current trial. There were a couple of dry spells, which affected grass quality but in contrast with other parts of the country, grass growth never dropped below 60kgDM / ha between May and September.
Picture from Ballyhaise open day in July 2022.
Autumn grazing has been a different story with 40% of average annual rainfall between mid-September and mid-November, which has led to flooding and very difficult grazing conditions. We did manage however to hit a high peak cover over 1100kg DM / ha in early October which allowed cows to stay out full time until 1st of November and by day till 13th of November. Some of our low paddocks (10% of area) have been badly damaged through flooding, a number of which have heavy grass covers (1200-1500kg DM / ha). We have decided to graze any green parts as soon as water levels drop but we will have to wait for dry frosty weather to graze any parts that are severely damaged. Not including this flooded area our farm cover is 700kg DM per ha with 1300kg DM / ha on the heaviest paddock so grazing is finished. Our target is to have 750kg DM / ha farm cover by December 1st which means we will open with 900-1000 next spring.
Graph 1 showing annual tonnage performance of 2021 established grass and clover paddocks and 2022 established grass and clover paddocks.
As part of the current trial, we are comparing grass swards receiving high levels of chemical N with grass clover swards receiving low levels of chemical N. Clover has been established through either full reseeding or over sowing into existing swards and these are compared to grass only swards established at the same time. Chemical N was applied to all swards in spring with clover swards receiving no chemical N after April where clover content was sufficient. To date last year’s clover reseeds have performed very well with 13.9 tonnes grown to date, which is 0.6 t DM / ha less than grass swards sown at the same time with 170 kg less chemical N / ha. See graphs.
Graph 2 showing the total nitrogen (kg/ha) applied to 2021 established grass and clover paddocks, and 2022 established grass and clover paddocks.
Graph 3 shows the clover content in grass-clover swards in 2021 and 2022 reseeds and oversown paddocks.
Ballyhaise Update 15-3-22
Donal Patton & Barry Reilly
Grazing conditions have been difficult which is normal for February / March grazing. Cows were turned out to grass in Early February and since then we have been using on-off grazing and 12 hour allocations to keep cows at grass. A small number of grazings have been missed due to snow or extreme rainfall. Average farm cover is on target at 920kg DM/ha and 38% of the farm has been grazed to date.
Cows are being fed 3kg of concentrate and 14kg DM of grass. Some silage has been fed when on off grazing when cows come in at night, 2kg DM per cow per day. Currently cows are out full time on pre grazing covers of 1300kg DM / ha.
36% of the milking platform has received 2500 gals slurry per acre and a further 16% has received 23 units of protected urea. The plan is to go with 46 units of N on rest of the area this week and to spread slurry on grazed paddocks that have not got slurry yet.
There is 450 Kg DM/Ha back on the 1st paddock grazed.
The cows are producing 22 Litres, Fat % 4.91, Protein 3.74%