Cold snap has stalled grass growth by 25pc
Published 06/05/2015 | 02:30
Low ground temperatures have stalled growth on farms by up to 25pc over the last 10 days.
Many dairy farmers have introduced meal feeding to compensate for the shortage of grass, while silage stocks are also being used up to make up for the shortfall in grass growth.
Ground temperatures last Thursday fell below zero at most Met Eireann stations. Athenry recorded -4.1C compared to 6.8C two weeks earlier. At Cork Airport the temperature dropped from 6C in mid April to 0 C last Thursday. At Ballyhaise in Cavan the temperature dropped from 7.8C to -1.4C over the same period.
An inch of rain fell on Saturday with another inch predicted this week, which will make grazing conditions much tougher.
The weekly data from Teagasc's PastureBase analysis of 70 farms across the country shows that average grass production over the 10 days to May 1 was 56kg/day - 80pc of the 70kg/day normally expected around May day.
Moorepark researcher, Michael O'Donovan, said that some farms are experiencing growth around 40kg/day range, with output hardest hit in the midlands.
Teagasc's southwest regional manager, John Dunworth said that the dry spring had helped farmers up to now. "Ground conditions are very good on farms, and while the recovery of grazed pasture has stalled there were decent reserves that are helping us to avoid a crisis - but we need an improvement this week," he said.
Despite the temperature slump, co-ops are reporting strong milk intakes for April, which are up 6-10pc on 2014. At the marts, demand for plainer cattle was a little weaker.