With the arrival of the much sought after dry weather this week, grazing was accelerated on the majority of farms.

Where conditions are suitable, cows are out full-time but on/off grazing after each milking continues on more challenging soils.

Young stock are also being turned out in order to increase area grazed.

As most cows are pushing three weeks calved, intakes are between 13 and 15kgDM per day.

Removing silage from the diet will increase the cows’ demand for grass and increase intakes resulting in more area being grazed per day.

Grass is a far superior feed than silage as a result of its higher protein content and DMD.

Reducing concentrates fed will also increase the demand on grass with an added cost saving benefit as concentrates are roughly 27-30c/kg versus 6-7c/kg dry matter of grass.

When reducing concentrate, magnesium feed rates must be monitored should there be a change in the weather over the weekend.

Dry weather

It is inevitable that this dry weather will break at some stage so we must make the most of it while it is here. Getting ground grazed will promote regrowths and set the farm up for the second round.

Using a spring rotation planner and budgeting out the grass will ensure grass is available until the start of the second round.

In cases where you are behind target it is still advisable to target grazing covers between 800-1,00kgDM in order to get through ground faster.

  • Remove silage from the diet when getting to grass twice daily.
  • Reduce concentrate but be prepared to increase again should weather conditions change resulting in cows being housed.
  • Continue to back-fence and restrict stock from traveling over previously grazed ground.
  • Practice on/off grazing where necessary.
  • Apply 25 to 30 units of nitrogen as soon as possible on ground that has not received slurry or fertiliser yet this year.
  • Monitor wetter ground and graze if suitable while the weather is good.
  • Caroline O’Sullivan - Teagasc Curtins Farm, Cork

    Last Friday 26 February cows went out full time and conditions have been super since. It has been a huge saving on labour as there are no cubicles to be limed or silage to be put out. To date we have 20% grazed and we were 12% behind target at the end of last week. We will continue to graze lighter covers in order to get through ground. 30 units of Nitrogen was spread in the last couple of days on ground that has got no fertiliser or slurry yet this year. The plan is to go again with a further 23 units of nitrogen at the end of March

  • Stocking Rate (cows/ha): 1.8
  • Growth Rate (Kg/day): 13
  • Average Farm Cover (kg/ha): 980
  • Yield (L/cow/day): 23
  • Fat %: 4.69
  • Protein %: 3.45
  • Milk Solids (kg/cow): 1.93
  • Supplement fed (kg/cow/day): 2
  • Paul Fitzpatrick - Ballymoe, Co Galway

    We have 26 % of the farm grazed as of the 2 March. There is 81% of the cows calved and they are out full time for the last few days which is a big help in reducing the work load. Once cows went out full time we removed silage from the diet. If there is a change in the weather we will go back to on /off grazing. On Tuesday we left out a group of lighter weanlings to get more ground grazed faster. 30% of the farm go 2,500 gallons of slurry using the trailing shoe umbilical system and the remaining 70% got 35units of urea.

  • Stocking rate (cows/ha): 2.7
  • Growth rate (kg/day): 11
  • Average farm cover (kg/ha): 930
  • Yield (L/cow/day): 23.5
  • Fat %: 5.32
  • Protein %: 3.83
  • Milk solids (kg/cow): 2.2
  • Supplement fed (kg/cow/day): 5
  • Donald Bateman - Ballylooby, Co Tipperary

    The cows have been out full time since the rain stopped late last week. Up until the rain stopped we were on/off grazing and feeding a small amount of silage. In order to avoid doing damage during the rain we targeted grazing dryer parts of the farm and used multiple access points to avoid traveling over the same ground more than once. The whole farm has received either 3,000gallons of slurry or 26 units of nitrogen. Our replacement heifer calves go to the contract rarer between 10-14 days of age which has greatly reduced the work load on farm.

  • Stocking rate (cows/ha): 1.9
  • Growth rate (Kg/day): 10
  • Average farm cover (kg/ha): 1019
  • Yield (L/cow/day): 23
  • Fat %: 4.8
  • Protein %: 3.68
  • Milk solids (kg/cow): 2
  • Supplement fed (kg/cow/day): 3