With a good weather forecast, the hope and expectation is that cows and cattle can resume grazing fulltime this week. Farmers with little or no grazing done so far and where there is a lot of grass on the farm need to act carefully. If they expect to start the second rotation on 15 April, they will need a high growth rate over a large part of the farm to achieve sufficient pre-grazing yields to sustain a 20 day round length. Milking cows should be sent to the lower covers to get as much area grazed as quickly as possible and then slow down by grazing higher covers in early April. The very highest covers (1,800kg and above) should be grazed by dry cows now. Quality will start to deteriorate if left any longer, but on farms where there is very little grazing done you must not let milking cows graze these fields.

Farmers that have close to 60% of the farm grazed will be starting to get edgy about grass. This means you’re doing the right thing so hold your nerve. Grazing higher covers now will help to slow down the round. Farmers in this category must measure weekly and must have a grass budget done. The objective is to get to 5 April without letting average farm cover go below 500kg/ha. Put in some extra feed now if necessary to slow down the round length. Rather than feeding some silage to all cows every day, some farmers house the whole herd fully for a few nights per week, while others keep in some of the herd every day but rotate what cows are housed daily.

Sward watch

There is little or no rain in the weather forecast so a resumption of grazing should be possible on drier farms this week and heavier farms maybe next week.

Nitrogen, where available, should be applied in the next few weeks to boost grass growth and increase the amount of silage harvested by the end of June.

Farmers with very little area grazed need to focus on getting the lower covers grazed first as these will recover the quickest.

Consider grazing very high covers with dry cows. Once these high covers are grazed the cows can go back in the shed.

Brendan Horan, Teagasc Curtins, Fermoy, Co Cork

The figures are based on multi-species swards made up of 20% herb, 5% clover and 75% grass. Post grazing residuals were 3.5cm over the weekend with on/off grazing and 2kg silage after three hours to avoid pasture damage. We ?86% of the herd calved and 47% of the area grazed on Monday, so we are behind target of 56% for last Monday. Hopefully as conditions improve we can make up the extra area in lower covers in the next two weeks. We need to be grazing 1.5% per day now. Half the grazed area has got 2,500g/acre of slurry and will receive 20 units/acre of urea this week. Area which has not received slurry will get 40 units of N/acre.

Paudie O’Brien, Firies, Co Kerry

We’re out grazing day and night again and we’re going at it hammer and tongs to get as much grazed as possible. I’ve only 10% of the farm grazed to date which is a lot lower than normal but land has been too wet up to now.

I’ve 77% of the cows calved and it has gone well except for a lot of milk fever. There’s about 400kg back on the first grazed paddocks and these will get slurry this week.

Between slurry and fertiliser everywhere has got over 30 units/acre of nitrogen, which is a lot less than other years but we have to cut back. I’d hope to be grazing some of the wetter parts of the farm by the weekend.

Padraig Greene, Cranford, Co Wexford

Padraig Greene and Eric Verschuure, Saturn Farms, Conna, Co Cork. \ Donal O'Leary

Things are going well here now and cows are out day and night. We have 80% calved and 56% of the milking platform grazed. We moved some cows up to a second unit so the demand for grass on the home farm has now dropped. I’ve 20 units/acre of nitrogen out between fertiliser and slurry and I’m half way through spreading another 30 units/acre of nitrogen as a second application. We had a small bit of milk fever at the start of calving but after I started spreading calmag on the silage of the cows close up to calving it stopped. Cows are on 3.5kg of meal and the plan is to keep them on this for another while to keep intakes up.