The last couple of months have been exceptionally wet and grazing has either ceased for good or at least been stalled on many farms.

It’s an earlier winter than normal on many farms and there are concerns about having enough winter feed on many yards.

Of course, a lot depends on what happens next spring because an early winter is fine, provided it is followed by an early spring – but these things are not guaranteed.

Closing at a high average farm cover is usually not a bad thing, as it means there should be more grass available in the spring, which will allow for early spring grazing.

Clover content

One complicating factor here is clover. Clover content has been found to decrease significantly when there are high covers carried through the winter.

This is because clover needs light and light is scarce in winter because daylight hours are so short in Ireland.

When clover is part of a high cover, the grass will shade out the clover and thus prevent sunlight from reaching the clover plant.

This will speed up the reduction in clover from the sward and is contrary to what most farmers are trying to achieve.

Best policy is to try to graze any paddocks with a high clover content and which have high covers of anything greater than 1,100kg or 1,200kg now.

Obviously, this should not take place at the expense of ground conditions, so wait until conditions improve before attempting to graze these paddocks.

There appears to be less rain in the forecast for this week, so it might be possible for some farmers to get some of these at-risk paddocks grazed.