Although growth rates this backend have been quite good, it’s time to start thinking about spring grass, and close the paddocks this autumn.

On most farms, 2020 will be remembered for being a strange year for grazing and grass growth.

The spring was wet on many farms, with harvesting of first-cut silage delayed. We then experienced a drought for a number of weeks, which then changed again to a better-than-normal backend.

Autumn grazing

Autumn grazing conditions in most parts had held up well until about two weeks ago, when most counties experienced significant rainfall.

A lot of farms in the south or on drier ground were able to keep cows out, or get them back out after housing them for a short period.

For most farms further north and on wetter land, most stock have been housed for the winter months.

Grass growth rates for the time of year have been nothing short of exceptional, with many farms growing more grass in October than in July this year.

Closing paddocks

With this being the case, a lot of farms have plenty of grass available to them and if the weather holds, it can be very tempting to continue grazing.

But once you have started your final rotation and paddocks have been grazed and closed, it is important that you do not graze them again until the spring.

Within the next few days, most farms will have reached the final paddock on their grazing rotation.

Continuing to keep cows at grass is not advised, because this will reduce grass availability in the spring – when it is need most.

Spring grass

The basic ideal of a spring-calving system is to calve cows in-line with grass growth. Milking cows from cubicles in the spring is firstly, more expensive and secondly, increases the workload in an already busy time of the year.

According to Teagasc, you earn 1.5 times more from a day’s grazing in the spring compared to the autumn.

To ensure that you have spring-grass available for the cows you need house them by mid-November and allow for grass to build up over the housed period.

Stocking rate
Covers on
strongest paddocks
Closing average farm cover (AFC) targets for December 1 based on stocking rate
Source: Teagasc