Grass growth: Poor weather leading to trickier grazing conditions

Grass continues to grow well across the country, despite some areas receiving a large amount of rainfall over the last few days.

The high soil temperatures are giving a strong platform for grass to continue to grow well.

The rain that has fallen has made grazing conditions tricky on many farms, especially on farms in the south-west of the country in particular.

Looking at figures from PastureBase Ireland, growth rates are ranging from 52kg DM/ha up to 80kg DM/ha, with some farms reporting growth rates higher and lower than this range.

However, many farmers have reported that “grazing conditions have become much trickier”, with large amounts of rainfall descending on many parts of the country over the last few days.

And, by the looks of it, weather conditions don’t look like they are going to improve anytime soon, with Met Éireann predicting more rainfall over the weekend and into early next week.

Grazing in difficult conditions

When the weather turns for the worst and ground conditions start to get a bit trickier, farmers need to weigh up which paddocks are the most suitable to graze first.

Preferably, drier paddocks should be targeted for grazing first, as this should mean better cleanouts will be achieved.

In order to meet residuals – of 4.0-4.5cm – farmers should be targeting covers of 1,200-1,500kg DM/ha.

Some tips when grazing in poor weather conditions are listed (below).

These include: 

  • Use on-off grazing;
  • Use a back fence;
  • Use off-spur roadways;
  • Graze in 12-hour blocks;
  • Graze drier paddocks first.

On top of that, farmers should continue to walk their farms to see what grass supplies are on the farm and to see which paddocks should be grazed next.

It may be the case on some farms that cows may need to be housed if rain persists. If this happens, good-quality silage should be fed.

Although it is a more expensive option, increasing concentrate supplementation is also an option, in which some farmers have decided to do already; however, this increase should be gradual.

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