The weather has been strangely pleasant the last few days, with the lapse in the rain - although replaced by cool and frosty conditions - very much welcome.

A small portion of farmers continue to have some youngstock out at grass, while the conditions underfoot for grazing forage crops have improved with the dry cold weather.

Caution should be exercised when allocating in frosty weather, as frost can increase the nitrate levels of the brassicas and cause nitrate poisoning.

When frost is present, leave allocating a fresh strip until mid-morning when the sun has burned off the frost.

Closing cover

On grass paddocks, a closing cover should now be taken. Growth rates have fallen into the single figures (average 9kg DM/ha) and will likely drop lower. Taking a closing cover is primarily to see where the farm sits regarding grass supply come next spring. Pasturebase Ireland data shows that average covers are sitting at 670kg DM/ha, which is pretty much bang on for dairy farms stocked at 3LU/ha on the milking platform.

Drystock or lower-stocked dairy farms can be closer or slightly below the 600kg mark. Most paddocks should grow 100kg to 150kg DM/ha between now and the beginning of grazing next year.

If you are in the position where you have one or two paddocks with a cover or 2,000kg DM/ha or greater, the current weather may allow you to graze them off for the winter.

If you find that you are likely to be tight on grass, early nitrogen (N) application is very rarely the answer.

N utilisation will coincide with growth, meaning spreading excessive levels of slurry or urea when the closed period opens in January will yield a low return on investment.

If covers are to be lower than required come next February, keep some quality silage in the diet of fresh calved cows, alongside concentrates.