With ground conditions still poor and it now mid-April, it will go down as one of the wettest springs in many farmers' minds.

Usually, a wet spring would have followed on from a good summer or back end the year before, but we are really feeling the effects of the deluges of rain since last July now.

First cut silage ground has yet to be fertilised on most farms, while others are weighing up the option on whether to graze this ground or not before closing.

To play the devil’s advocate here, one of the last times we had such a wet spring was 2018 and a widespread drought followed.

I would expect that some form of a drought will hit us during the summer, based on the law of averages, so securing a decent quality and bulk in the first cut silage should be a priority, as second cut may be affected by a hot, dry summer.

In this case, avoiding grazing silage ground and getting it cut and re-fertilised early for second cut would be a prudent and wise option.

Some farmers, such as William Treacy, have split applications of fertiliser for silage ground, again a good idea.

There’s a lower risk of nutrient leaching, and when the second round of fertiliser is spread two to three weeks later, a more accurate assessment of the N needs of the crop can be made. Spreading 80-100 units now could result in you having to sit on your hands waiting for N to be used up while the grass quality deteriorates, whereas if you assess covers on the second application and scale back application rates where necessary, you would hope for a happier marriage of N content of the grass come cutting time.


William Treacy – Hackballscross, Co Louth

All stock have returned to the sheds now bar a handful of cows and calves grazing close to the yard. Conditions were just too poor to leave stock out. We started zero-grazing two weeks ago as I began to see the back wall of my pit.

Growth is actually really good. All ground has taken off in the last while, with some grazing ground recording growths of 40kg DM/ha. Silage ground has been closed up, with some of it unfortunately not grazed this spring. I went with a half rate of protected urea on silage ground last week, with the hope being to spread the remainder this weekend.

One field has received the half rate but won’t be receiving more, as with the strong cover on it I will hope to cut it at the end of the month.

System Suckler to beef

Soil Type Free draining

Farm cover (kg/DM/ha) 1,528

Growth (kg/DM/ha/day) 27

Demand (kg/DM/ha/day) 7

Stephen Frend – Newford Demo, Co Roscommon

We got 30 cows and calves out to grass last week for two days of grazing, but they were rehoused again due to the weather.

Cows inside have been getting 100g/head/day of a post calving mineral along with 1.4kg concentrates mixed in with the silage, which has helped to hold body condition.

Cows have been tail painted, bolused and have received the Lepto vaccine, with good heats being seen indoors.

We have had 19 maiden heifers at grass for the last 10 days. All grazing ground received 25 units of urea, with silage ground with a decent cover receiving 38N+S following on from a slurry application in January.

I’d hope to cut this in early May and get those two to three weeks of good growth for a second cut.

System Suckler to beef

Soil Type Variable

Farm cover (kg/DM/ha) 994

Growth (kg/DM/ha/day) 15

Demand (kg/DM/ha/day) 11

Shaun Diver – Tullamore Farm, Co Offaly

Silage ground is saturated, so fertiliser application will not be completed in the coming week. Some of this ground received slurry 10 days ago when ground was drier.

We spread 30 units/acre of urea on 40 acres of grazing ground. Heifers are currently at grass, with PRIDS having gone in ahead of bulling. There are 20 cows and calves and all lambed ewes at grass.

Calving and lambing is winding down, with 16 ewes and 18 cows left. Straw for calves is tight, and we could do with getting more stock out.

Bulls have commenced ad-lib meal feeding, with 24 bulls to be slaughtered this year. We’ve been keeping up with maintenance work such as replacing the crush on the outfarm, fencing and replacing gutters on sheds.

System Suckler to beef

Soil Type Variable

Farm cover (kg/DM/ha) 840

Growth (kg/DM/ha/day) 18

Demand (kg/DM/ha/day) 13