Slurry spreading delay: I have had a few calls from farmers wondering whether to delay slurry spreading this year to try and get more out of it.

Teagasc specialist Mark Plunkett says that in order to maximise the uptake of nitrogen from slurry by the grass plant, it’s important that it’s applied at the right time of year and in the right conditions.

Soil temperatures must be consistently above 5.5°C and land must be trafficable with field conditions able to carry machinery.

It’s also important that there is a good forecast and that the grass plant is actively growing to take up the nutrients.

The spring time is the best time to apply slurry. Springtime application of slurry with a trailing shoe is worth nine units per 1,000 gallons – this falls to three units per 1,000 gallons for a summer application with a splash plate.

He said farmers should target slurry for silage fields where 3,000 gallons/ac will deliver a lot of the P and K required and also up to 30% of the nitrogen required for first-cut silage.

Compensatory growth: Compensatory growth occurs when animals are moved onto a diet rich in energy e.g spring grass after a period of restricted intake or growth. The target growth rate for weanlings over the winter months is somewhere between 0.5kg/day and 0.7kg/day in order to avail of maximum compensation after turnout. On many farms, weanlings will have been offered 1-2kg/head/day over the winter months to achieve target growth rates and this supplementation can now stop in advance of turnout. If weanlings gain too much weight and become fat, it has been shown that they subsequently lose this fat at grass and the extra weight is not carried through to slaughter or sale at the end of the second grazing season. Weanlings should be offered a silage-only diet from the end of January until turnout. In a year of high input costs, it’s critical that inputs are reduced and one way of doing this is early turnout. This will help reduce expensive meal and silage diets and will also help improve liveweight gain and concentrate feeding during the final finishing phase.

Irish Farmers Journal Spring Webinar Series: Wednesday 2 February sees the launch of our live spring webinar series.

The series will cover a wide range of topics across dairy, beef and sheep systems over the next few months and kicks off on Wednesday night at 8pm with Calving the cow and care of the newborn calf.

The Irish Farmers Journal livestock team will take a look at management before calving, the calving process including malpresentations and difficult calvings on both beef and dairy farms.

We will then discuss looking after that newborn calf in the first few weeks of life to make sure it gets the best possible start. The aim of the webinar is to be as interactive as possible with farmer questions directing the discussion on the night.

Participants can log on to on the night at 8pm and questions can be submitted to the speakers via Zoom on the night, WhatsApp 086 836 6465 or via email on If there are topics you would like to see covered, drop me an email at