Spring growth means we can hit our grazing targets
Published 06/05/2015 | 02:30
May has arrived and ideally grass growth should be at least meeting grass demand with surpluses expected as we progress towards June.
The cows should have also peaked in milk supply within the last few weeks and should be achieving greater than 1.8kgMS/cow and ideally around 2kgMS/cow (give or take 0.1kg).
While the main focus is on mating as we head into the breeding season it's also a great time to reflect on how the spring has treated us and how it has set up the cows for breeding.
For our farm in Kerry it has been a great spring. Turnout may have been a bit slower than desired, with our underfoot conditions being too wet in February, but March and April were kind months. This has provided the opportunity to manage grazing as desired.
This means feeding the cows well on pasture and adding a few kilos of meal to maximise production and minimise condition score loss.
The aim is to achieve good grazing residuals and reduce the pasture cover to a level that sustains the cows and maximises pasture quality. For our farm this is around 500kgDM/ha.
Having been well trained in spring grazing management and also having assisted my husband in its management for a numerous years on our own farm, I find managing the supply of grass relatively straight forward.
A weekly walk, combined with monitoring the soil temperature, helps you determine whether you are facing a feed deficit that will reduce your cover too fast or whether it will hold its own.