Met Eireann said last week that the dry spell of weather could last for weeks or even months.

Some indicators, which have a low level of confidence so may not come to pass, are suggesting that the prolonged dry spell could last up to October.

Given that many places are at just 60% of their normal rainfall levels now, it's concerning on many fronts.

For one thing, how will we have grass if we don't get rain and, secondly, average annual rainfall rarely differs by more than 10% per year, so if that is to be the case in 2022, we are due to get a lot of rain in the last two or three months of the year.


It's important to recognise that these are possibilities that may not happen, but the Met Eireann advice was that farmers should plan for them, which is sensible.

The key thing is to monitor silage stocks for the winter. Identify how much silage is required for the winter and do not touch this silage until the winter.

All other options should be on the table regarding supplement use, but keep in mind that this comes at a cost and on some farms, moving on non-essential stock should be used to lower demand for grass.

Beef cattle, surplus replacement heifers and cull cows are all non-essential stock on dairy farms and could be sold if needs be.

Good decisions

For the moment, I think the best policy is to make good decisions for the present time.

If grass is wilting away, I would be inclined to get cows and cattle to graze this off before putting in a lot of extra feed, such as meal and silage.

Fertiliser use should stop until there is a good chance of rain coming.

While air temperatures have decreased and sunshine is back to normal, without good rainfall amounts, grass growth rates won't recover quickly.

Where animals are being fed silage outdoors, be prepared for a long feeding period.

Try to avoid sheds for animal health reasons, but try to avoid sacrifice paddocks also, as this leads to a lot of nutrient losses, particularly over a prolonged period.