After a brief respite from the rain over Sunday and Monday, it looks like the weather is going to turn wet again from Monday night, with at least two days of heavy rain forecast.

Farmers should avoid spreading fertiliser or slurry on Monday, even if ground conditions are suitable.

The heavy rain will mean that grazing will be nigh on impossible for most farmers, even those on dry land.

For most farmers, February has been a very challenging month in terms of rainfall and many farmers have struggled to get cows out to grass, even for short stints.

Cows in the shed

Keeping cows in the shed is a good strategy if the alternative is unavoidable damage.

It is next to impossible to avoid doing damage when it is raining, even on free-draining soils.

When cows are indoors, they should be fed the best-quality silage available, on most farms this is high-quality bale silage made from surplus grass during the year.

If alternative forages are available such as beet or maize, then this should be fed to the milking cows also, but note that these are low in protein and so the diet will need to be balanced.

In terms of meal, the costs of feed have increased significantly, so it is in everyone’s interest to reduce feed costs by feeding less.

Balance the diet

However, when cows are indoors on silage, meal should be used to try to balance the diet.

It will never fully replace what grass has, because the protein and energy available in grass is very high.

In my book, feeding 4kg or 5kg of high-energy dairy feed is probably sufficient for most farms.

This level of meal feeding can be reduced when grass is back on the menu - hopefully by the end of the week.