Yet another week of very unsettled weather has farmers at the edge of crisis, as silage stocks are at little or nothing and still no sign of the weather making any drastic improvements for the next week.

For a lot of farms, grazing has turned from reaping the benefits of having grass in the diets, to just getting cows out to reduce the demand on silage stocks in the yard, which are rapidly depleting.

In many cases, farmers are over allocating grazing areas just to get cows out without doing too much damage to the ground.

There are covers of 200 -300kg DM/ha being left behind, which is going to create its own problems leading into the second rotation as grass quality will be compromised.

For those who are still struggling to graze and only have 20% or less grazed, they should graze from the bottom of the wedge up.

Target lower covers, giving higher allocations to get through ground while limiting damage.

Saving ground for silage is something which hasn’t been on the radar too much, as it feels like we are still at the beginning of March.

There is just less than 50 days to 20May, so farmers must begin thinking about closing out silage ground.

There is a big variation between silage ground, as some has been grazed or zero grazed while other ground has been growing since last October.

Avoid spreading slurry on paddocks that haven’t been grazed yet. Pro urea and sulphur should be applied, with P & K applied also depending on P allowances. Grazed ground should get 3,000 gallons per acre, as well as protected urea and sulphur.


  • Look for opportunities to get cows to grass. Take any opportunities available using on-off grazing, or restricted turn-out of young stock.
  • Secure any additional fodder, feed and fertiliser required, and take action early to secure supply in good time.
  • Look at practical steps to ease stress and reduce workload on farm.
  • Farmers should be thinking about closing off ground for silage.
  • Farmers

    Donal Patton – Teagasc Ballyhaise, Co Cavan

    Cows are out nearly every day, but still in by night. We were able to get cows out for a couple of nights last week to get some wetter paddocks grazed.

    Growth is at 13kg/day, where it would usually be at 20kg/day at this time of year. This is down to the weather, but we also haven’t gotten fertiliser out since the beginning of March.

    We want to get out with more but weather doesn’t look like it will allow this week either.

    We probably only have another two or three weeks of silage. We haven’t supplemented any straights yet but we do plan to up the concentrate in the parlour this week.

    Stocking Rate (cow/ha) 3.0

    Growth Rate (kg/day) 13

    Average Farm Cover (kg/ha) 640

    Yield (l/cow) 24

    Fat% 4.67

    Protein% 3.27

    Milk Solids (kg/cow) 1.95

    Concentrates 4.5kg

    Brian Doheny – Tullaroan, Co Killkenny

    Just over 50% of the farm is grazed so far. We are just winging it because we can’t make a plan with the weather. It all depends on the weather at the time whether they are in or out.

    They are out during the day and out some nights the last couple of days. They have left 200-300kg DM/ha after some grazings, but it was the only way we could get cows out without damaging the paddock too much.

    We’ll close off silage ground on the milking platform once weather picks up enough to spread it. We hope to spread 50 units of Nitrogen per acre and any of the lower covers will get watery slurry.

    Stocking Rate (cow/ha) 2.75

    Growth Rate (kg/day) 14

    Average Farm Cover (kg/ha) 1,257

    Yield (l/cow) 24

    Fat% 4.67

    Protein% 3.54

    Milk Solids (kg/cow) 2

    Concentrates 4.5kg

    Darren Healy – Redcross, Co Wicklow

    With grazing, we’re getting out when we can. There is 72% of the farm grazed now and 1,200-1,300kg DM/ha back on the first paddocks grazed. If we were to graze them again, we would do a lot of damage as they were damaged this spring and last autumn.

    The last 28% is very wet and has covers of up to 3,000kg DM/ha. That ground will need 48 hours to dry out before I can think about grazing it. I’m grazing silage ground for the second time now.

    There are silage stocks for about 10 days and another 60 bales of dry cow silage but cows will drop back if I use them.

    Stocking Rate (cow/ha) 3.37

    Growth Rate (kg/day) 30

    Average Farm Cover (kg/ha) 1,336

    Yield (l/cow) 25.2

    Fat% 4.58

    Protein% 3.13

    Milk Solids (kg/cow) 2

    Concentrates 5-7kg