If the past week is anything to go by, it’s a not so gentle reminder at how quickly land can go from perfectly dry to sticky in a matter of days.

It was a ticking time bomb in reality, with farmers echoing each other that the good weather would have to come to a halt sooner or later.

Farmers that had grazed hard and were ahead of their spring rotation planner are now finding themselves behind target after the past week, despite most getting cows out to grass for some part of the day.

We have now gone from turning cows out full time to on-off grazing – the first time for many farmers for 2023, with it being more similar to management in early February than mid-March.

Farmers have been reporting that allocating grass for 3-4 hour periods is working well, with little damage being done; paddocks are often dirty looking when cows exit them but it is more muddying of grass than poaching.

Back fencing is essential in this scenario to avoid damaging already grazed swards, and creating additional gaps through adding some extra handles wouldn’t be a bad decision either.

If there is still some available, lower covers less than 1,200kg DM/ha work best for on-off grazing.

Targeting heavy covers now, even with the majority of cows calved, might lead to poor cleanouts.

Targeting the lower covers will also help farms that are below target on their spring rotation planner to catch up quickly.

These heavier covers can be grazed again when conditions are more favourable.


  • Continue on-off grazing until the weather and ground conditions improve. Strip wires, back fencing and spur roads are your friends in wet weather.
  • Dry farms should now have nearlytwo-thirds of the platform grazed. Adjust what grass you have so that 100% of the platform is grazed by 1 April.
  • Hold off on any fertiliser or slurry if there is any surface water or significant rain promised in the 48 hours post-spreading.
  • Farmers

    Caroline O’Sullivan – Teagasc Curtins, Co Cork

    We have been on-off grazing for the last week or so as weather conditions have deteriorated. Cows are turned out for 3-4 hours post milking and brought back in again.

    We are allocating 4kg silage to cows as they were very unsettled in paddocks when the weather turned, bunching up with showers of rain. We have plenty of gap handles installed that allow us split larger paddocks easily without using the same gap all the time.

    The damage to swards isn’t significant and is more dirtying than anything. We are at 51% grazed, so we have gone from being ahead of target to falling behind.

    Stocking Rate (cows/ha) 2.15

    Growth Rate (kg/day) 16

    Average Farm Cover (kg/ha) 669

    Yield (l/cow) 23.5

    Fat % 5.09

    Protein% 3.69

    Milk Solids (kg/cow) 2.13

    Supplement fed (kg/cow/day) 5

    Jack Keenan – Aughrim, Co Wicklow

    Cows had been out full time up until the past week. Cows are turned out after each milking and brought back in 3-4 hours later, where they receive maize silage and grass silage.

    We have had cows out since Jan 16, so we had been ahead of target on March 1 with 40% of the platform grazed.

    With the past week, we have likely fallen behind target, so we’ll skip some silage ground we had intended grazing. Ground is not receiving any damage with the three-hour breaks and we are allocating 10kg of grass between morning and evening.

    Stocking Rate (cows/ha) 2.47

    Growth Rate (kg/day) 12

    Average Farm Cover (kg/ha) 840

    Yield (l/cow) 31

    Fat % 3.58

    Protein% 3.15

    Milk Solids (kg/cow) 2.14

    Supplement fed (kg/cow/day) 5

    Shane O’Loughlin – Monasterevin, Co Kildare

    Grazing was going extremely well up until last Thursday (9 March). Since then, we have had cows on-off grazing. It’s working well, but if cows were out longer than three hours in paddocks, they would start to do damage.

    Cows are out between 9am-12pm and again 5pm-8pm. Protein levels have dropped with the cows on silage, but that’s unavoidable.

    Ground will dry out very quickly if we get a few fine days again. We have 59% of the platform grazed to date. We spread 23 units of N in mid-February, with the plan being to go with two bags of 18-6-12 when the weather improves.

    Stocking Rate (cows/ha) 2.93

    Growth Rate (kg/day) 14

    Average Farm Cover (kg/ha) 761

    Yield (l/cow) 27

    Fat % 4.5

    Protein% 3.34

    Milk Solids (kg/cow) 2.2

    Supplement fed (kg/cow/day) 5