Grass availability is coming under pressure on many dairy farms in the East Cork area, according to Teagasc regional manager Ger McMahon.

“We had 35mm of rain in this area over the weekend,” he said.

“This added to the previous few days of wet weather. As a result, ground conditions are starting to deteriorate and grass growth rates are taking a real hit.

“The weather forecast for the rest of the week is not good, which will give farmers further cause for concern. Quite a number of silage bales were made in the East Cork area a week or so ago, as milk producers opted to take additional grazing paddocks out of the system.

“That’s a decision many of these farmers might well be regretting, given the deterioration in the weather of recent days.”

McMahon could not confirm if the decline in grass grazing conditions is having a negative impact on daily milk yields.

“All of the early calving cows are not past the stage of peak output,” he said.

“But it’s, obviously, not desirable to have cows huddled in groups around field boundaries and tramping up swards. The real challenge facing dairy farmers now is ensuring that they get their cows back in calf as quickly as possible.”

Turning to the prospects for silage making McMahon said that a number of milk producers in the Cork area are ready to take a first cut, as soon as weather and ground conditions improve.

“There is certainly enough grass in most of the fields set aside for early silage. But nothing is going to happen over the coming days. However, as soon as the weather picks up at all we will see the harvesters in action. And that may well happen next week.”

Met Eireann is predicting  a changeable weather week ahead with a return to much cooler conditions over Saturday and Sunday.