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Managing the herd in the current weather conditions

On this week’s episode of the Dairy Edge, Donal Patton, Teagasc Ballyhaise, and Michael Egan, Teagasc Moorepark, discussed at a recent Teagasc webinar the current weather conditions and scenarios facing farmers across the country and how best to deal with them.

Donal first talked through the current situation in Ballyhaise and then discussed trial work that was done over a four-year period there which mimicked the situation that many farmers are now facing in terms of high proportions not grazed and how to deal with it in the short-term, but also in the medium term to maintain grass quality and maximise performance through the main season when weather will hopefully much improve.

Donal highlighted that conditions are very challenging currently and consequently grazing is hard work, but it is important that farmers try to make a start. He advised farmers to get out and walk their farms to see if there is some dry spot to get cows out for a few hours at least to reduce the silage demand and increase the level of performance through inclusion of grazed grass. He was quick to acknowledge that there are scenarios where it may not be possible to get out, but that people need to be looking regularly. 

Michael Egan spoke on fertiliser advice in these very trying weather conditions. He outlined the various scenarios on farm - from some fertiliser spread to none - and how to respond to these, again similar to Donal’s advice, when the conditions allow.

Michael finished by discussing fertiliser advice for silage this year and emphasised the need for good cuts in order to replenish very much diminished stocks on farms. This will not be achieved by going for big bulk first cuts.

Instead, early/mid/late May cuts - depending on the starting point of the crop - will be necessary to get ‘May growth’ into second cuts in order to get the bulk many farmers require, but with a much higher level than a big, bulky first cut in June will deliver.

Michael emphasised that bulky first cuts actually undermine total silage production and cautioned farmers against being tempted to take this approach to silage production not just this year but any year.

Listen in below:

A recording of this webinar is available to watch here.

For more episodes, a co-production with LastCastMedia.com, visit Dairy Edge podcast show page.