Milder weather over the last few days has been welcomed by everyone.

The rain that came with it was welcome for those that needed it, but unwanted for those on heavier soils.

The weather for April and the early part of May was unseasonal and largely unwanted.

The Irish system of grass-based livestock farming relies on a big burst of grass growth in late April and early May.

It still hasn’t come in 2021.

Growth spurt

However, we can be fairly certain that it’s on its way.

The Teagasc prediction is for a big increase in growth rates for the coming days, with growth predictions of 80kg to 90kg/day in some counties.

They say the darkest hour is just before dawn and this will hold true for many farmers regarding grass supply.

Weeks of continually eating into average farm cover has seen some farms with grass covers at a very low level.

Extra supplement will be required where average farm cover goes below 500kg/ha or less than 140kg/cow.


The objective is to avoid getting into a spiral by going on a too-fast rotation length.

Extra meal, or dare I say it silage, may be required for a few days to let pre-grazing yields creep up. This extra feed now may be very beneficial in the long term.

However, if there is enough grass on the farm, then the objective should be to try to remove as much supplement from the diet as quickly as possible.

Some farmers are feeding a lot of supplement, even though grass is relatively plentiful – this is a false economy.

The trick is to walk the farm regularly over the next few weeks, as the grass situation will be volatile and you can easily go from a deficit to a surplus overnight.

Continue to allocate grass on a 24- to 36-hour basis and aim for a tight post-grazing residual of 3.5cm to 4cm.