The typical wet weather in Ireland is currently causing major problems for dairy and beef herd management. Farmers need to get their first cut of silage made but the wet conditions associated with tremendous grass growth rates have resulted in heavy wet crops of grass which require a longer wilt period to avoid excessive effluent emanating from the conserved silage.

Farmers realise the importance of well preserved first cut silage for future herd health and reproductive performance. Currently, ground conditions have worsened with heavy tracking of land, deterioration in herbage quality, contamination of grass with soil when ensiling. This, unfortunately, will result in high potassium lower DMD and ME silages with a consequent negative effects on herd health.

On the grazing front, many farmers with heavy land have had to resort to putting young stock back indoors which can result in injuries to maiden heifers running with a stock bull. Milk yields have dropped significantly on these farms. It is essential to supplement with either concentrates or buffer feed with existing conserved forages. I have noted a significant loss in BCS in herds visited this week. This will not bode well for heat detection, fertility or embryonic mortality. It is essential to avoid stress on breeding females at this stage of the breeding programme.

Dr. Dan Ryan is a cow fertility expert and can be contacted at