James King recently walked the grazing block on his farm in Ballymena, Co Antrim, to assess grass covers and to identify opportunities for turnout this spring.

A group of around 30 cows were turned out to grass in early-March 2020 and James felt that this was beneficial in making it was easier to manage subsequent grass covers in April and May, compared to previous years.

Walking the platform has also allowed James to assess paddock fences, gateways and laneways and identify areas which require maintenance and repairs before cows are turned out.

Ground conditions at the time appeared to be good underfoot and average farm cover was estimated to be 2,400 kgDM/ha, with some fields having a cover approaching 3,000 kgDM/ha.

It was also interesting to note that areas of the farm which had been grazed by sheep until early January had a cover of 1,800 kgDM/ha.

James plans to continue to monitor grass covers over the next few weeks and when growth rates start to increase, he will select a group of cows that have been scanned in-calf for turnout to grass.

These cows will initially graze for a period of three or four hours per day and James plans to gradually increase the time spent grazing as the month progresses.

Read more in this week's Irish Farmers Journal and online here.