It’s very much been a feeling of working on borrowed time. With such a wet year it would only take a solid day or two of rain to force cattle inside permanently.

It very much seems like that rain has come as all but lighter stock or those operating on extremely dry farms have been forced to house with the torrential rainfall levels seen.

Getting to stay at grass until now is an achievement, and a good deal of the grazing block is likely recently grazed. For many, the last round of grazing has been quick due to the need to move cattle on quickly to avoid damage. The low DM seen in grass the last six weeks hasn’t helped matters either, with low feeding value in any remaining grass.

Even if cows are housed, there might still be an opportunity to graze off the last remaining heavy covers with some lighter stock to avoid leaving these in paddocks over the winter. Conditions might also improve enough to get heavy cattle back out again in two- or three-weeks’ time. At the moment, if cattle are damaging ground badly while grazing there really is only one place for them and that’s inside.


Derek O’Donoghue – Salesian College, Co Limerick

Calves and in-calf heifers remain out, but are likely to be housed towards the weekend with this high level of rainfall promised.

We had aimed to remain at grass until Halloween, so we are only going to be a week shy of this. Utilisation is very poor at the minute, and ground is sodden. If conditions improve in a few weeks again we won’t hesitate to turn stock back out. Calves continue to get 1.5kg of ration at grass.

The ewe flock has been reduced by half down to 50 ewes, with these going to a Belclare and a Suffolk ram next week. The cull ewes and remaining store lambs have been housed and will now be finished indoors, as they have become very wet and dirty outside.

System Dairy beef /sucklers

Soil Type Free draining

Farm cover (kg/DM/ha) 507

Growth (kg/DM/ha/day) 22

Demand (kg/DM/ha/day) 5

Peter Doyle – Derrypatrick Herd, Co Meath

Cows have gone in now after weaning. We weaned a third at a time, housing the cows and letting the calves back out to grass each time. Castration and vaccination on calves was done prior to weaning.

If the conditions allow, we may turn cows back out to grass again. Weanlings are grazing covers of 1,300kg DM/ha, with heavier covers targeted at the older cattle.

Steers are still outside and will be finished off grass in November. We have 40% of the block closed off for the winter, with the target being to have 60% closed by 1 November.

The red clover silage was last cut at the beginning of September and we will graze this if ground conditions improve, though we are cautious not to damage the clover by poaching

System Suckler to beef

Soil Type Free draining

Farm cover (kg/DM/ha) 788

Growth (kg/DM/ha/day) 27

Demand (kg/DM/ha/day) 12

Mark Maxwell – Mullingar, Co Westmeath

Grass supply is dropping rapidly, and we are now starting to close up paddocks with 30-40% of the farm now closed. We will target to have between 60-70% closed by the end of the month. Forward stores have been steadily housed over the past three weeks for finishing.

The autumn calvers remain at grass, with the stock bull turned out last week. We hope to keep them out for the first round of service if the weather allows.

The spring calvers are being weaned at the minute, with the calves remaining inside and some cows turned back out again. Third cut was completed 10 days ago, while we got as much slurry out last week as possible though some ground remained too sticky to travel.

System Suckler to beef

Soil Type Free draining

Farm cover (kg/DM/ha) 788

Growth (kg/DM/ha/day) 14

Demand (kg/DM/ha/day) 31