Henry Walsh: 'It's been a dream spring for grass growth'
What a difference a year makes. It's been a dream spring and incredibly at our stocking rate we have now finished the first rotation as planned with almost no silage fed to milking cows this spring and an average of less than 3kg of meal per day.
While we endured a very wet spell in mid March, the ground was well able to take it with almost no damage.
This should stand to us on the second and third rotations as grass realises its potential without compaction or root damage.
We started the second rotation by night on April 4 with covers of around 1,000 kg/dm/ha. While this is a little on the low side, we still have first rotation grass by day until April 10.
These covers were exceptionally high by comparison to other years at 2,300 kg/dm/ha.
This has been the case all spring and meant the cows were content. I have always preferred to mix first and second rotation grass for a week this time of year to ease them into the lower dry matters. I also find this is the most dangerous time of the year for grass tetany, often a day after a cow has shown a very active heat and maybe picks up a chill or otherwise.
Farm cover now is at 650kg/ha. After a cold week, growth is at 22kg/dm/ha, well below our current demand of 48kg/dm/ha. This time of year usually sees the arrival of 'magic day' so I am willing to sail a bit closer to the wind on farm cover and allow it to drop to 450kg/dm/ha.
This means that at current growth rates we can continue as is for another eight days till April 17. Temperatures are to recover to normal levels this week and because we had 70 units per acre of N out, plus nine of sulphur, the farm is set up to grow. In the event of a deficit we will increase meal from current levels of 2.5kg or maybe introduce some second-cut grass bales from last August.