Some milk suppliers in our area are already experiencing lower growth rates due to a lack of moisture in the soil. With the current forecast it is highly likely that this problem will deteriorate further and extend to a larger number. We must be proactive rather than reactive in order to manage the current situation as best as possible.
Action is required now to ensure that you are prepared to deal with lower growth rates for the next 7-10 days at least. Maintaining herd performance is crucial as any drop in output now will have an increased effect on herd performance for the rest of the lactation.
- Go out and walk the farm to assess grass covers and your own grass situation
- Maintain rotation length at 20 days (if your rotation is longer than this maintain at your current length).
- If pre-grazing covers are low or if you are struggling to maintain rotation length at 20 days plus, use concentrate to fill the feed deficit in the first instance. Feeding rates can be increased up to 6kg/head /day in this situation.
Using concentrates to address the issue first will reduce the pull on next winters silage supplies. Silage reserves need to be built up
- In more severe situations where higher supplementation rates of above 6 kgs/ head is required - use good quality silage bales or consider grazing a portion of second cut silage ground if it is at an appropriate stage to make up the deficit.
- Continue to follow cows with fertiliser, use products such as 27s, 24s or CAN (avoid spreading urea). Spread approx. one bag per acre of fertilizer after grazing. Even in dry conditions fertilised ground will respond much quicker once growth rates improve.
- Avoid topping or pre-mowing paddocks as this will dry out grass faster and lead to lower growth rates.
- With high feeding rates and high dry matter grass ensure the water supply is sufficient to meet the herds needs. Restricting water intakes will reduce cow performance and lead to higher stress levels in the herd.
- If you wish to discuss your situation - Call Donal Murphy/ Tim Regan or Darren Lynch for more information.