Although a lot of the country escaped with little or no snow last week, heavy showers of rain have seen grazing conditions deteriorate this week. Grazing was called off on many farms over the weekend but one consolation is the southwest wind which has helped dry up land and facilitate on/off grazing in areas.

As we continue to experience broken weather conditions for the coming weekend, a rise in temperatures has seen predicted growth rates increase to an average of 12kgDM up from last week’s average of 5kgDM.

Farms are also coming under increasing pressure to get slurry out as tanks are starting to reach capacity. The availability of dry ground with a low cover of grass is low on most farms following good growth rates over the winter.

Using low-emission slurry spreading equipment such as the trailing shoe or dribble bar can facilitate less contamination of the grass plant, increase nitrogen availability and reduce the impact on the environment.

Where conditions allow it is important to get cows out to grass to achieve 30% grazed. This can reduce work load on farm and ensure cows continue on a rising plane of nutrition post-calving.

Grass courses

There are limited spaces available on the Irish Farmers Journal/Macra Skillnet grassland management courses.

Contact John Crowe on 086 0817459 or

  • Walk the farm to monitor ground conditions for grazing and slurry/fertiliser application.
  • Use low-emission slurry spreading equipment.
  • Use on/off grazing where necessary, two to three hours grazing and then bring back in (restrict silage in the shed pre-turnout to ensure cows have an appetite).
  • Target 30% grazed by 1 March or ASAP.
  • Graze light covers 800-1,000kg dry matter to transition cows and reduce waste.
  • Fergal Coughlan

    Clonakilty Ag College, Co Cork

    The average farm cover on the grass plus clover with 150kg Nitrogen allowance is 994kgDM/ha. There is a total of 23 units of nitrogen out per acre in the form of slurry or protected urea. We have seen a huge change on the farm since the Urea was spread 10days ago and the growth rate reflects that. Calving has been going well with no major issues and there is now 57% of the herd calved (120 cows). We are giving a calcium bolus to all cows fourth lactation upwards after calving to prevent milk fever. Cows are getting out to grass for three hours after morning and evening milking weather permitting and are producing 25.7kg at 4.37%fat and 3.58% protein.

    Average Farm Cover (kg/ha): 994

    Growth rate (kg/day): 22

    Concentrate (kg/cow/day): 4

    Silage (kg/cow/day): 3

    Percentage Grazed (%): 10

    Peter Brophy

    Paulstown, Co Kilkenny

    Calving began on the 31 January and we have 57% calved to date. Calving has gone well for us so far but we have notice an increase in calf size on last year which we are putting down to the high-quality silage we are feeding. We got the cows out once a day every day last week but unfortunately the rain at the weekend meant we had to stay in for a couple of days. On Monday we got out after morning and evening milking for a couple of hours which we hope to continue going forward. We have 2,500 gallons of slurry out and we hope to go with 23units of urea next week weather depending.

    Average Farm Cover (kg/ha): 1,100

    Growth rate (kg/day): 5

    Concentrate (kg/cow/day): 4

    Silage (kg/cow/day): 2

    Percentage Grazed (%): 17

    Hugh Leonard

    Castledermot, Co Kildare

    Cows have been out full time here since the 8 February with the exception of a couple of hours on Saturday last. We are doing a lot of back fencing and use the occasional spur roadway where necessary. Once cows went out we reduced silage intake and they are now on 8-9kgDM of grass plus concentrate in the parlour. The soil here on the farm is free draining and once we get a few dry hours in the day its suitable for grazing. In late January we put out slurry at 2,500 gallons per acre on 10% of the farm using a dribble bar. We plan to go with 35units of UREA in the coming days to kick-start growth as temperatures are forecast to rise.

    Average Farm Cover (kg/ha): 848

    Growth rate (kg/day): 4

    Concentrate (kg/cow/day): 3

    Silage (kg/cow/day): 0

    Percentage Grazed (%): 12