April 2018 Monthly Management

Score Drinagh Feeds Spring Diets 2018, Managing Damaged Swards

15 April 2018

Score Drinagh Feeds Spring Diets 2018

Score Hi Maize Dairy Range

Our current range of Hi Maize diets with Megalac are proving very successful among customers. The range included both the 19% and 17% diets during the Spring and we will also offer a Hi Maize 14% diet for the breeding season. The Hi Maize 14% is designed to maximise milk protein output from spring calvers. Milk protein is directly linked to energy in the cow’s diet. Contains a high level of maize – the most suitable cereal to feed on a grass based diet. High digestible fibre levels also included to support rumen function – reducing the risk of acidosis and low milk-fat syndrome on low fibre lush spring grass. Also contains Megalac to improve milk yield, fertility, body condition score and reduce risk of acidosis. Fertility booster mineral and cal-mag included.

Score Super Graze plus Rumbuff & Yeast

New for this Spring – Super Graze is a 16% diet (this will drop to 14% when conditions/ growth improves) with high inclusion of maize. It is almost a necessity to have buffer included in your feed when grass supply is scarce and no other forage (fibrous) is available. This is helpful towards eliminating acidosis/looseness that can lead to digestive complications and a reduction in the milk fat content in the milk. Cal-mag included.

Score 16% Dairy Nut

A proven diet that works in all conditions. High inclusion of cereal, including maize and added digestible fibre to help maintain rumen function on high quality spring grass. It is particularly useful when grass growth is poor and higher levels of meal feeding are required.

When growth rates increase, ration levels can return to lower levels. Cal-mag included and balanced for 4kg feeding.

Grazing Cattle

Score Fertility Booster Nut (this will be available shortly once conditions/growth improves)

An ideal diet for incorporating a fertility booster mineral and cal-mag when feeding levels fall to 2kgs per head per day. Maize based with protein at 14%. Added trace elements ensuring the cows daily requirements are met at lower feeding rates. Trace elements play a vital role in production and fertility during the breeding season. Balanced for 2kg feeding.

When ground/growth conditions improve, and the currents levels of high feeding are no longer required it is important that supplementation is reduced gradually. Sudden changes to the diet will cause digestive upsets leading to impaired cow performance that should be avoid at all costs during the breeding season. Care should also be taken not to overestimate the amount of grazed grass in the cow’s diet. Regardless of the feeding regime, having cows on a rising plane of nutrition and improving body condition score leading up the incoming breeding season, will improve submission rates and conception rates.

For further information and advice contact you co-op advisor or nutritionist.

Managing Damaged Swards

Due to the difficult grazing conditions experienced this spring and last autumn, swards may have been damaged and now farmers are looking at repair options for such swards.

Assess damaged swards to see what line of action needs to be taken. Consider the historical performance of the paddock, the level of perennial ryegrass and the severity of the damage to the soil as well as the sward. If damaged swards have previously underperformed and had low perennial ryegrass content, they will be limited in their potential to recover as they are starting from a low base. Productive swards with a high perennial ryegrass content should recover from treading relatively well provided the underlying soil is not overly compacted.

If damage to the ground has been too severe and the existing sward is beyond recovery, a complete reseed may have to be considered in these cases.

Severely damaged paddock
Figure 1: Severely damaged paddock. Full reseed needs to be considered here


Over-seeding on swards that are less severely damaged is a good means of increasing the perennial ryegrass content to maximise grass production and quality. For best results from over-seeding, the sward must be cleaned off i.e. grazed tightly prior to over-seeding. Various methods can be used to over sow such as broadcasting or direct drilling machines. Regardless of the chosen method soil-seed contact is key in all cases.

When choosing grass seed varieties, tetraploid grasses (Aston Energy, AberGain, Kintyre) are the best option. This is because tetraploids are more vigorous and establish faster than diploids due to their larger seed size. Larger seeds have an increased seed/soil contact which is critical for the seeds to germinate successfully.

To summarise, the key points when over-seeding include:

  1. Use tetraploid varieties
  2. Sow at 9 kg per care
  3. Ensure seed to soil contact
  4. Spread 1.5 bags/acre of 10-10-20
  5. Lightly roll to encourage seed/soil contact
  6. If possible a light application of watery slurry (1,000-1,500 gallons/acre)
  7. Graze at low pre-grazing covers for the year
Figure 2: Aitchison Direct Seeder
Figure 2: Aitchison Direct Seeder

Frequent tight grazing of the existing sward should be carried out for the remainder of the year to prevent the new grass being smothered and shaded by the existing sward. It also encourages tillering of the new grass, ultimately increasing overall herbage produced. Over seeding should not be practised in a field that is intended for silage until after it has been cut for the season.

If some paddocks are not severely damaged, and you decide that over seeding is not required, avoid rolling the paddock as this will slow recovery/growth. Compound fertiliser with higher levels of phosphorous and potassium will also help tillering and recovery of grass e.g. 1.5-2 bags/acre of 18-6-12 is recommended.