Completing a grass walk on your farm in the coming days will help to determine an opening cover for your farm and help select paddocks that may be suitable for slurry spreading.

Although in many parts of the country grounds conditions are soft under foot, in other parts of the country ground is in reasonable condition, with some farmers getting cows out to grass.

Grass walk

When closing your paddocks in the autumn you will have closed them in stages; the paddocks that were closed between October 20 and November 1 are where the cows should be going first.

These paddocks should be the driest and have multiple access points, and should have a lower cover, as intakes just after calving will be low.

You should complete a grass walk on your paddocks to determine how much the grass has grown over the winter period and which paddock you will put cows into first.

November and early December were good for grass growth which may mean covers are heavier than expected and the only way to assess fully is by completing a grass walk.

Spring grazing targets

The grazing targets set out by Teagasc are: 30% by the end of February; 60% by March 17; and 100% by early April.

These targets should be tailored to your own farm depending on weather and ground conditions.

The weather over the next number of weeks will play a major role in determining the start of the grazing season this spring.

Getting cows out to grass early in the spring has many benefits including:

  • Stimulated grass growth;
  • Reconditioned swards for the year ahead;
  • Reduced feed costs;
  • Increased milk output.

The use of on-off grazing is a good way of getting cows to grass without causing damage to the ground.

Getting cows out for a few hours after milking will allow them to fill up on grass and reduce the need for silage.


Completing a grass walk will also allow you to select paddocks that slurry can be spread on when the conditions are correct.

As fertiliser prices continue to be an issue, slurry should be targeted on paddocks with low indexes.

Increasing the index will allow the soil to grow more grass with less chemical fertiliser required.