Heavy rainfall brings concerns for grazing plans

With many parts of the country experiencing heavy rainfall in recent days, some farmers planning early turnout may be getting concerned about what their options are – especially if ground conditions fail to dry up in the next few weeks.

However, any farmers are in a situation where fodder is still plentiful on farms, so the cause for concern in terms of feed supplies should not be raised just yet.

AgriLand spoke this week with Teagasc drystock advisor, Eoin Woulfe, about how farmers should prepare for the grazing season if conditions become somewhat favorable in the coming weeks.

Eoin explained:

“For farmers that are targeting early turn-out, the best thing that they can do is walk their land and identify any fields or paddocks that are dry, while also having a sufficient cover of grass or has been reseeded.

“These should be targeted as the first areas in the grazing rotation.

If slurry has been spread on some fields, the proper growth won’t be achieved yet – so targeting those field wouldn’t be ideal.

“Taking care of those fields that might be suitable for going out to, will be the priority – farmers can then pick out a pen of light cattle to let out first.

“If you look at the early spring grass rotation planner, a lot of that plan doesn’t kick in properly until February 15 onwards.

“Even if farmers don’t get out until February 20, they can try to let out a few extra stock to compensate for the loss of days at grass,” he added.


Fertiliser plan

Eoin went on to highlight how soil temperatures are now reaching above 5°.  However, with another cold snap forecast for the coming weekend, it is predicted these soil temperatures will drop.

When conditions become more stable and suitable for spreading, Eoin advised:

I think the best thing farmers can do is have fertiliser, such as urea, ready to use in the yard. This means when ground does dry up, and soil temperatures are suitable, they can head straight out and spread.

“If you are heading out with urea or protected urea, target a half bag to the acre.”

Farmers also need to keep in mind the second application of fertiliser this spring, according to Eoin.

“You see a lot of farmers putting out their second fertiliser application too late.

“Of course you want to get your first spread out in February, but target to get the second spread out by the end of March.”