Higher temperatures over the coming days will see grass growth increasing and, in some cases, exceed grazing demand.

That will see surplus grass emerging on grazing swards, particularly on farms where cattle are still filtering out to grass as ground conditions improve.

Being able to manage grass in May takes skill and a degree of flexibility to keep swards under control. When it comes to managing swards this month, outlined are five tips.

1. Don’t be afraid to skip paddocks with heavy covers

When it comes to rotational grazing in May, don’t get hung up on moving cattle into the adjacent paddock every time animals need shifting. Walk the swards weekly, if not twice weekly.

If the next paddock has strong grass covers that will see grass being wasted, then skip it and target swards with lower covers that will be easier to clean out.

By not skipping paddocks with strong covers, it means paddocks which currently have swards at ideal grazing heights will continue growing.

By the time cattle move into these paddocks, covers will be too strong for grazing and, again, there will be wasted grass.

Therefore, walk the grazing platform and do not be afraid to skip paddocks. Heavy covers can be removed for silage.

2. Shorten the grazing rotation

Normally, a three-week rotation is ideal to allow adequate time for grass to regrow. But, in May, grass growth will surge to peak levels.

Shortening the rotation to between 12 and 15 days will make it easier to keep on top of sward quality during peak growth.

Sticking to the 21-day rotation could see covers become too strong for grazing, whereas the shorter rest period means cattle enter swards at more optimum covers.

3. Stocking density

Ground conditions are still marginal on heavier soils, hindering turnout. Where paddocks are not at optimum stocking density yet, it will be difficult to prevent swards getting too strong for grazing.

But, if possible, speed up the rate of animals going to grass this week. Alternatively, if cattle are spread over a bigger area to reduce the risk of poaching, aim to condense these animals into larger groups or to increase grazing pressure.

4. Reduce paddock size and strip grazing

Using electric fencing to reduce paddocks into 24- or 48-hour grazing allocations during May will help to keep on top of grass quality.

Water provision can be an issue when reducing paddock size, but it should not be a reason to avoid splitting paddocks into smaller areas.

Placing wires diagonally from drinkers or tapering the fence to suit troughs can make it possible to reduce paddock size.

Alternatively, strip grazing will improve grass utilisation while overcoming issues with water provision. Just be sure the fence has a strong charge and move the wire on time every day.

5. Clean out paddocks or top after grazing

In the ideal world, cattle will clean out paddocks tight on each rotation. But that is not always the case, as there will be rejected grass around dung pats and when swards head out.

Therefore, topping after grazing will leave a clean aftermath for fresh grass to regrow, maintaining sward quality in the next rotation.