It’s amazing how quickly the situation can change at this time of year. Just a few weeks ago we were concerned that some parts of the country were still too dry and now it seems that the main issue is that most places are too wet.

The water table is high and low lying land is flooded on the heavier soils in the northern part of the country. Extremely heavy rain over the weekend really worsened the situation.

Dealing with the aftermath is the task facing farmers now. The first thing that should be done is to increase the concentrate feeding level.

Grass dry matter will be very low and grass intakes will be suppressed when ground conditions are poor.

Feeding 3 to 4kg of meal in the parlour will help to keep cows settled over the coming days until things settle down again.

Extremely difficult

Grazing conditions are extremely difficult where there was heavy rain. In some cases, particularly on heavy farms there will be no other option but to house animals.

This is not the end of the world nor is it necessarily the start of winter. Ground conditions will improve quickly at this time of year with long days.

Keeping a positive mindset is important during these challenging times – something each of the farmers in the Teagasc Heavy Soils Project say is critical.

Housing will be without question necessary in some cases, but there are things farmers can do to avoid having to house in other cases.

On/off grazing, grazing the highest and driest fields, allocating grass in 12-hour breaks and making use of all roadways will help to reduce damage.

If housing is the only option, hygiene in the shed will be key to avoiding mastitis. Cubicles should be scraped down and limed after every milking. Run scrapers or clean passages every few hours.

Keeping passages clean is essential in the fight against mastitis as clean passages lead to cleaner cubicle beds.

When feeding silage to milking cows, feed the best of what’s available. Depending on silage quality, extra meal might be required in order to cushion the drop in protein.

However, this advice is geared towards farmers that have had very heavy rain. I’m conscious that many farmers in other parts of the country are grazing OK.