From mid-August to mid-September, the focus was to build the average farm cover (AFC) in order to ensure grass was available for extended autumn grazing.

Exceptional growth rates during these months meant Pasturebase Ireland (PBI) recorded its highest ever AFC.

Good growth, coupled with a dry month in November, gave an opportunity for most farmers to extend the grazing season.

As the focus moved from the target peak AFC in mid-September, the target closing cover on 1 December became the main focus on all farms measuring grass.

This target was based on the stocking rate of the farm and spring demand, which is strongly influenced by the six-week calving rate.

Target range

These targets range from 600kg DM/ha on a farm stocked at 2.5LU/ha to 750kg DM/ha on a farm stocked at 3.5LU/ha.

How to measure grass using the ‘cut and weigh’ method.

Another thing to be mindful of is your farm's ability to grow grass over the winter, which can range from 100kg DM/ha to 300kg DM/ha depending on the farm.

This depends on a number of factors, which include location and soil type.

Another thing to be mindful of is your farm's ability to grow grass over the winter.

Now that we are in December, it is the ideal time to do the final grass walk of the year to establish where the closing AFC is compared with the target.

Firstly, this will give you an opportunity to make a grazing plan for the spring.

It is also very useful to put an end date to the season, which then gives an accurate picture of the farm's performance over the year, which can be reviewed in the reports section of PBI, in particular, the annual tonnage report and the farm summary report.

Assessing your situation is very farm-specific and no two farms are the same.

If you are over 100kg DM/ha ahead of your target, there may be an opportunity to graze another paddock, but this depends on whether doing this will then cause the AFC to fall below the target.

If you are below target and have not stopped grazing yet, it is very important to do so. Running the farm cover down will only leave you short of grass in the spring, when it is of much more value to you.