A month ago, March had ‘come in like a lion’ with a torrent of bad weather along with it after a dreary and wet February. My expectation (like many others) had been that the latter half of March would be a reprieve, but this failed to materialise. Now the first week in April is almost over and no immediate dry spell ahead of us.

Few areas are escaping the rain, and even extremely dry farms have struggled this year in getting stock out to grass.

Looking at Pasturebase Ireland figures this week, only 46% of grazing platforms have been grazed as an average on dairy farms. In a normal year, this figure should be at 100% and farms moving on to the second rotation.

With soils being so saturated, there’s been a double whammy, with a low percentage of farms grazed and those grazed paddocks being slow to come back again.

The wet soils are making it difficult to graze, but are also making soils cold. Soil temperatures are running at about 7-8°C which has been affecting the growth, with grass covers now beginning to look hungry due to the low amount of fertiliser applied.

Expensive silage

There’s little advice that can be given that hasn’t already been said, but even getting out to grass for short periods each day is of benefit to stock and the farmer and will help reduce workload and most importantly cut down on expensive silage and concentrates going into stock. There is an abundance of grass out there, with average farm covers sitting at over 800kg DM/ha across dairy and drystock farms measuring with PBI, but the issue is obviously in trying to get this into diets.

Silage is obviously a big concern to many. Producing it is costly, but purchasing and transporting variable quality silage is even more so. If you are finding yourself low on fodder, talk to your adviser or local farmers to see if there is good quality available locally. Above all else, take care of your physical and mental health in these difficult farming conditions.