Grass10 Newsletter - 12th July 2022
See this week's advice from the Grass10 team. Keep up weekly walking of the farm. Get the takeaway messages from Sean O'Donnell's farm walk in Mayo. The Condons of Kilkenny are the Grass10 featured farmer; Clover reporter with Ger Pardy. How to manage low covers; PBI grass growth figures and more
204th Edition - 12th July 2022
Grass10 Weekly Tips
Grass growth varying greatly- monitor this by walking weekly
Grass growth is varying greatly across farms in the past week. And it's also varying across paddocks within farms. The best way to manage grass properly in this situation is walk your own farm and get a handle on grass growth to decide the best step forward. Some heavy soils farms may need to bale out surplus grass, while drier farms may need to feed back surplus grass from earlier in the summer in the form of bales.
High air temperatures and low rainfall predicted
The weather forecast for the coming week is showing high air temperatures and little rain in most areas. Under these conditions soil moisture deficits will increase, and grass growth is likely to decrease (see grass growth prediction map above). Farms should avoid blanket topping/premowing to correct quality, as this will slow down growth further. Instead choose 1-2 of the poorest quality paddocks and correct these. Fix quality in the remaining paddocks when grass growth picks back up.
Grass utilisation should be high – aim to utilise 90%+
Grass utilisation should be high this week with good dry conditions and high dry matter in grass. Aim to utilise 90-95% of the grass in the paddock, i.e. if pre-grazing yield is 1,400 KgDM/ha the residual should be less than 100 Kg DM/ha. Allocate grass correctly, stock can get an extra 12 hours in paddocks with higher DM%. Sean O'Donnell (below) stated last week that high grass utilisation is key to his farms profitability, so make the most of it this week!
Hold AFC where growth is low
On some drier farms, soil moisture deficits are already high and the rainfall two weeks ago is quickly disappearing. The weather forecast indicates this to get worse before it gets better. It is important to hold AFC above 550 KgDM/ha to support the grass growth potential that is there. Going below this reduces grass growth rates, and recovery will be slower. Maintain a 20-25 day rotation length (i.e. on an 80 acre block graze 3-4 acres per day) and ensure pre-grazing yields are above 1000 KgDM/ha. Reduce demand on farm. Options are: remove some animals from main block, bring back silage ground for grazing (if not too strong), introduce silage, or increase meal. Remember to allocate grass in the paddock if you are allocating silage in the yard to ensure good grass utilisation and that you slow down the rotation.
Mayo Gets GFOY Walks Off To A Flying Start!
Last Friday kicked off the 2021 GFOY winners' farm walks on Sean O'Donnell's farm just outside Ballina, Co. Mayo. Sean and his family are milking 215 crossbred cows across two milking platforms. The O'Donnell’s were the “Mixed Soils” category winners. The key takeaways from the event were:
- High grass utilisation, 6 week calving rate and net margin underpin a low cost and very profitable dairy farm.
- Very targetted investments in infrastructure and reseeding (with clover) are enabling high grass utilisation.
- Sean focuses nearly all his time on what makes money and leaves less profitable tasks to someone else
- Sean has a hunger for specified knowledge enabling him to make the best decisions for his farm
Grass 10 Featured farmer
Kieran & Edward Condon, Co. Kilkenny
Kieran farms with his father Edward in Kellsgrange in Co. Kilkenny. They are milking 125 cows on dry free draining soils. All the grazing block and some silage ground is on the home block with remaining silage and heifer ground on an outblock. To date the farm has grown 8.2 T DM/ha on 160 Kg N/ha (including slurry).
This section will give weekly reports and videos from farmers who have a lot of clover established on their farms.
This week, Ger Pardy, dairy farmer from Offaly, give us an update of how the grass-clover swards are performing on his farm so far this year. Plus his fertiliser managment on these swards.