As the old saying goes, if March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb. March has certainly came in like a lion, so farmers can only hope for some better weather, even though the short term forecast isn’t looking favourable.

There was an orange weather warning on Tuesday night in parts of Munster which saw heavy rain and wind.

Just as heavier farms were beginning to see the light last week with periods of drier weather, grazing has been put back on hold again for the foreseeable.

Those who have been getting out day and night on drier farms in the midlands have started to pull back cows, as they are beginning to graze over their target percentage grazed, and would ultimately find themselves in a shortfall in April.

Those farms who are hitting 55-60% of the farm grazed this week now need to turn to the spring rotation planner. Many dry farms are restricting grazing to during the day only, and supplementing 3-4kg DM per cow of silage at night.

This will pull the reins on grazing a bit without affecting performance.

Those heavier farms with less than 10%, and many not seeing grass yet in 2024 need to create a plan. Grazing targets should be adjusted so that there will be sufficient grass in the second rotation.

These farms should prioritise getting 30% grazed as fast as possible, targeting low covers and drier ground.

You should have 50% of the farm grazed by the first week of April and aim to begin the second rotation heading into the last week of April.


  • Continue on/off grazing when conditions allow. Cows should be going out with an appetite and brought in before they begin walking around.
  • Reassess silage stocks in the yard, making a plan on how it can be best utilised.
  • Drier farms need to turn to the spring rotation planner and supplement to avoid a grass deficit in April.
  • Heavier farms need to readjust grazing targets, aiming to begin second rotation in the last week of April.
  • Eamon Hora – Ballymoe, Co Rosscommon

    We have 83% calved since the middle of February, two weeks after the other farm. Just as we had cows ready to graze, the weather turned and it’s been difficult ever since.

    There is 28% of the farm grazed, and cows are heading into covers of 1,200-1,400kg DM/ha. Heaviest covers are at about 1,800kg DM/ha. Cows are only out by day as they are split for housing and it would be too difficult to bring them in at night.

    We spread 2.5kg of slurry/ac on 20% of the farm in February and blanket spread the rest with 23 units of urea/ac. We are planning to go with more slurry and fertiliser next week.

    Stocking Rate (cow/ha) 3.83

    Growth Rate (kg/day) 9

    Average Farm Cover (kg/ha) 1,227

    Yield (l/cow) 23.7

    Fat% 5.11

    Protein% 3.73

    Milk Solids (kg/cow) 2.09

    Concentrates 4kg

    Alan Hughes – Bagnelstown, Co Carlow

    We’re on a very dry farm, so there was only one day in February where we didn’t get out to grass. Cows are grazing covers of about 1,600kg DM/ha now, with the highest cover of 2,200kg DM/ha.

    We have 60% of the farm grazed and we are well on target. Cows were out day and night the last week with drier conditions, but I’ve pulled them back to just grazing by day now. Cows are on 3kg of meal and 5kg of silage at night. The rest is made up of grass.

    One third of the farm was spread with slurry in January. That land got 20 units/ac of urea and the rest of the farm got 30 units. I plan to have 60 units out for April.

    Stocking Rate (cow/ha) 2.5

    Growth Rate (kg/day) 774

    Average Farm Cover (kg/ha) 14

    Yield (l/cow) 27

    Fat% 4.82

    Protein% 3.52

    Milk Solids (kg/cow) 2.25

    Concentrates 3kg

    Donal Patton – Teagasc Ballyhaise, Co Cavan

    We are getting 6-7ml of rain everyday which is not giving land a chance. Last week we did get cows out for a few hours on/off grazing after each milking.

    We have 20% of the farm grazed after targetinng dry paddocks with lower covers of 900-1,000kg DM/ha. The aim is to have 30% grazed for St Patrick’s Day and begin second round by 20 April.

    AFC is about 70-80kg DM/ha below where I would like it to be, so I won’t be pushing cows to be out day and night.

    We have spread slurry on 30% of the farm, and another 50% has gotten 23 units of protected urea/ac and the remaining 20% of the farm is too wet still to get anything.

    Stocking Rate (cow/ha) 1.9

    Growth Rate (kg/day) 14

    Average Farm Cover (kg/ha) 760

    Yield (l/cow) 23

    Fat% 4.9

    Protein% 3.55

    Milk Solids (kg/cow) 1.94

    Concentrates 4.5