With the final days of February approaching, and slightly more settled weather conditions, we are beginning to see a lot more herds at grass, even if it’s only for a couple of hours a day.

There is a huge variation between farms; drier farms are hitting their target of 30% grazed, while heavier farms haven’t seen grass since last October.

Weather has been unpredictable from day to day. It’s hard to make a plan other than what you can see in front of you.

While land type has a huge bearing on percentage grazed, even on dry farms, the main difference is the tools they are using to get out.

Using spur roadways and back fences have proven to work, but selecting the right paddock, correct allocations and limiting silage in the diet are going to improve graze outs and grass utilisation.

With more settled weather forecast for the coming week and growth rates predicated to rise, this is a great opportunity to get out with some early chemical nitrogen.

Many farms will have spread 30% of the farm with slurry in weeks gone by, and more following cows after grazing. Farmers should aim to get out with 30kg N/ha this week on 50% of the milking platform to prevent falling into a grass deficit in early April.


In last week’s paper, we inadvertently reported that there was slurry spread on the Ballyhaise farm in the end of January, which would have been in the closed period.

The slurry was in fact spread in early February, which was our mistake and bad communication on our part.


  • Review percentage grazed on the farm – aim to graze covers <1,000kg DM/ha to catch up.
  • Limit silage in the diet overnight, aiming to have everything eaten at 3am.
  • Aim to spread 30kg N/ha on 50% of the milking platform this week as growth rates improve.
  • Spur roadways, back fences and allocations still have a big part to play in improving graze outs.
  • Farmers

    Caroline O’Sullivan – Teagasc Curtins, Co Cork

    We have 31% grazed to date. We began grazing at the end of January and have been able to get out most days for a few hours. We can keep cows out for the whole day generally, while they go out from 4pm-8pm after the evening miking.

    We have 80% of the herd calved. The lighter covers are gone now, so we are grazing 1,600kg DM/ha covers and it has been harder to achieve graze outs in poor weather.

    We spread 30% of the platform with 2,000gal/ac of slurry. Half of the farm was spread with 23 units of protected urea/ac. We are following cows now on the remainder of ground with 2,000gal/ac of slurry.

    Stocking Rate (cow/ha) 1.98

    Growth Rate (kg/day) 7

    Average Farm Cover (kg/ha) 926

    Yield (l/cow) 20

    Fat% 5.18

    Protein% 3.59

    Milk Solids (kg/cow) 1.75

    Concentrates 4kg

    Liam Budds – Ardmore, Co Waterford

    There is 23% of the farm grazed so far, it has been a tricky spring, but we’re on a very dry farm here. We have 70% calved to-date. Cows are out by day and out for another three or four hours in the evening.

    Grazing has ramped up in the last week. Before then, appetites and cow numbers were low. We are beginning to head into covers of 1,200-1,300kg DM/ha and cows are grazing out very well.

    We spread 70% of the farm with 2,500gal of slurry once the closed period opened. I spread half a bag of urea on 30% of the farm. That 30% will get slurry in mid-March and the other 70% will get urea.

    Stocking Rate (cow/ha) 2.18

    Growth Rate (kg/day) 10

    Average Farm Cover (kg/ha) 92

    Yield (l/cow) -

    Fat% 5.01

    Protein% 3.50

    Milk Solids (kg/cow) -

    Concentrates 3kg

    Michael Gowen – Kilworth, Co Cork

    To date, there is 22% of the farm grazed. I have been able to get cows out, but only for two or three hours at max. There is 77% of cows calved now and we began on 1 February.

    I have been grazing dry paddocks with low covers so far.

    I’m running out of dry paddocks now and will have to graze wetter paddocks with low covers. I have drier paddocks but covers are higher and I need to get through ground fast.

    Cows are being allocated 8kg of grass, and 2kg of meal in the parlour. The gap is filled with pit silage at night but it would be gone for 3am.

    Stocking Rate (cow/ha) 2.6

    Growth Rate (kg/day) 12

    Average Farm Cover (kg/ha) 950

    Yield (l/cow) 22

    Fat% 4.8

    Protein% 3.47

    Milk Solids (kg/cow) 1.81

    Concentrates 2kg