The weather hasn’t been brilliant but it’s a lot better than it was, and high pressure over the weekend will increase the speed of recovery. It’s inevitable that grass is going to take off.

Farmers might think that they are coming out of winter mode now, but if so, they are going straight into summer mode and bypassing spring. This calls for early action to skip over paddocks and get the pre-grazing right.

The fear is that milk supplies in May and June will be reduced because of poor quality grass in the diet. Nobody can afford this after a desperate spring, so if there was ever a year to get pre-grazing yield right this is it.

Aim to graze covers at 1,400kg for the next two months. This is easier said than done. It will require regular walking of the farm and regular skipping over paddocks for silage.

I would predict that there will be very high growth rates for the coming weeks if the weather picks up. This means keeping the baling contractor on speed dial in order to correct residuals, control quality and re-build silage stocks.


With breeding season about to kick off, don’t forget the terms and conditions of sexed semen.

These are to only use on cows in first, second, third or fourth lactation, only use on cows calved more than 50 days on the day of AI, only use on cows with a body condition score of three or more, only use on cows that have had a number of cycles already and only use on cows that have had no health issues this spring such as milk fever, mastitis, lameness, etc.

That’s the cow side covered, but you also need to look at the bull side and handling the straw.

There will be variation in the performance of bull semen after being sexed on top of the variation in performance that already exists between bulls. Using a large team of bulls will spread the risk in terms of poor conception rate, but also the impact of one bull’s EBI dropping sharply.

The other big thing with sexed semen is the timing of AI. It seems to be critically important to delay the timing of AI to 14 to 20 hours after the onset of heat, which is the first time the cow or heifer stood to be mounted.

For most farmers this means using the AM/PM rule but where only once a day AI is practiced, it means that conventional AI will be required for cows not bulling long enough for sexed.


Some farmers are asking about the merits of doing deals with tillage farmers to boost winter feed stocks.

The likes of maize, wholecrop wheat and fodder beet are all options but are expensive crops to grow, and while they provide high energy feed, they are low in protein and are awkward to feed out, particularly beet.

Teagasc estimates that it costs €840/acre to grow maize excluding the land charge or any profit for the grower, but including the cost of fertiliser, plastic and harvesting.

Beet costs more to grow at €944/acre, excluding land charge and grower profit. Red clover silage will be cheaper to grow, especially with the €300/ha scheme incentive.

The key thing when entering any arrangement is to have a written agreement and honour all commitments.