The forecast for next week is for a change in the mostly dry weather conditions that have been seen across the country over the last week.

This will bring with it some changes to grazing management.

Above-normal growth rates this autumn led to a high peak average farm cover (AFC) in mid-September. This has meant that there are still high pre-grazing covers on many farms.

However, the low dry matters (DM) being recorded mean cows are getting through grass faster than expected.

On Monday, Moorepark recorded a DM of 13% on a cover of 1,550kg DM/ha.

As growth has now fallen below demand on many farms, the AFC will start to drop. It is very important at this stage to keep an eye on your target closing cover.

Target cover

The target closing cover should be between 600kg DM/ha and 800kg DM/ha on 1 December. This depends on your stocking rate.

Some areas, particularly in the west and south of the country, got a lot of rain 10 days ago and ground conditions have become difficult.

Ground that is damaged in the autumn will hold more surface water over the winter. This makes it more susceptible to damage in the spring, so should be avoided.

Cows grazing in the sunshine. / Donal O' Leary

Strip wires should be used when grazing during wet conditions to avoid stock walking over heavy covers of grass. Twelve-hour grazings should be used where possible.

Multiple access points, backing fences and spur roadways will reduce the number of times stock travel over grazed ground, which will help to prevent damage.

Try to avoid grazing covers above 2,000kg DM/ha during very wet conditions as utilisation can be poor. Instead, graze lighter covers during wet spells of weather and make the most of dry days to graze off the last of the heavy covers.

The most important thing at this time of the year is to be flexible with the plan.