Grassland management: Tips for grazing during poor weather conditions

Unfortunately, the rain over the past week has forced many farmers to house their cows for a period of time, in what has been a drastic turn in weather events.

Up until mid-August, weather conditions for the most part were quite good, with exceptional growth rates being recorded on farms.

However, the last week or so has seen a large amount of rain descend across the country, which has led to grazing conditions becoming very tricky on farms, with some farmers forced to house their stock for a period of time.

Many farmers, who are farming on heavy ground, have been on-off grazing over the last few days – in an attempt to maximise the amount of grass in their cows’ diets, as well as hoping to achieve good cleanouts and to minimise poaching.

Tips for grazing in difficult conditions:

  • Walk the farm to identify the most suitable paddocks for grazing;
  • Use on-off grazing – letting cows out with an enthusiastic appetite is critical to the success of on-off grazing;
  • Graze the driest paddocks;
  • Graze paddocks with multiple access points and good access by roadways;
  • Use a strip wire and a back fence.

If it is a case where you have been forced to house your cows, then house hygiene should be a priority when cows are indoors in order to prevent mastitis.

Unfortunately, more rainfall is forecast for the rest of this week; so grazing conditions are unlikely to make any immediate improvements. However, according to Met Éireann, conditions are due to improve over the weekend.

On some farms, farmers have been forced to house their cows due to the poor weather