Zero growth rates driving up costs
Farmers are eating into their fodder reserves with some farms witnessing growth levels close to zero in recent weeks due to the chilly spring temperatures, a Teagasc dairy advisor warned.
Costs are being driven up on farms this springtime as dairy farmers are supplementing with silage and meal in parts of the country to try and maintain milk solids.
"That is the reality of what is going on. Farmers are keeping their fingers crossed that the weather will improve," said Teagasc dairy advisor George Ramsbottom.
Varied grass regrowth levels have been recorded in parts of the country, with Teagasc's PastureBase showing an average growth rate of 15kgDM/ha a day on Teagasc dairy research farms. Kilkenny-based Teagasc advisor Pat Moylan highlighting a growth rate of zero was recorded on PastureBase for the Callan-based farm of PJ O'Keeffe, which was hosting a spring grazing discussion.
He highlighted that covers on the first fields grazed as part of the spring rotation stood at around 500kgDM/ha, far below the usual springtime average.
"Growth rates have been quite low. Typically we would have expected growth rates of 25-30kg per day in the month of March," he said. Dr Emer Kennedy said that, similar to Moorepark, many farmers were trying to plan as they were running out of grass.
She advised farmers to go back and look at the first fields grazed to decide if action needed to be taken now to try and extend the first rotation as there are no signs of a rise in soil temperatures to spark regrowth over the next few weeks.
Mr Moylan said the second rotation was when cows "needed a good plain of nutrition" as the breeding season will be underway and good solids were also required to improve price.