Getting grass growing is not easy as the winter hangs on
Published 30/03/2010 | 05:00
Grass remains scarce on all farms following the hammering grass swards took during the winter and the absence of any growth until mid-March.
By then, fields that were closed in late October and early November had a cover of over 1,000kg dry matter/ha of mixed quality green grass and withered/dead material.
This needs to be grazed off immediately as it is delaying the growth of new grass. It is important to get it off the silage fields before closing, otherwise the quality of first-cut silage will be reduced by 4-6 DMD units.
Analysis of this over-wintered herbage suggests it is in the range of 70pc-74pc DMD and considerably better than most of the silage that stock are eating at present. Fields that were grazed late into November remained bare and are only now starting to grow.
The most difficult situations are where silage has almost run out and grass is scarce. In that case, the priority now is to maximise grass production by applying nitrogen on rested fields.
Supplement scarce silage with meal. Every kilogramme of meal fed will save about 7kg silage, and feeding 3kg meal to a dry cow or heavy store will reduce the silage required by 50pc.
Calved cows indoors with calves at foot need about 5.5kg meal/day if silage is cut to 50pc of requirements. Even when you have plenty of silage, put out enough stock to graze off heavy covers before April 1 and then turn out additional animals as grass supply increases to maintain 12-14 days' grass supply ahead of stock.
Grass growth should now pick up with each passing day. Soil temperatures are now in the range of 7.5-10°C and should rise further unless there is a cold snap.