February 2023 and 2024 could hardly be further apart if you tried in terms of grazing conditions.

Last year, we were faced with farmers having to restrict access to cows as ground conditions were allowing us to graze day and night with ease, mowing through covers faster than the spring rotation planner was letting us.

We all know how much that changed in March.

Currently, we are looking at being one third of the way through February, with the real thick of calving currently happening on the majority of dairy farms right now.

Going by the old rules of having one third grazed by the end of February, you’d be forgiven for thinking you should have 11% of the platform grazed already. That’s very much not the case.

Restricted capacity

Fresh calved cows still have a restricted intact capacity and the majority of cows on farms are yet to calve, both of which are reducing the grazing power on farms.

Even where grazing hasn’t begun or likely won’t in the coming week, ground can be made up, as more cows calve and their appetite improves.

Having one third grazed by the end of February is always the trickiest goal to reach in the spring rotation planner and while it is optimal to have this portion grazed early to allow for adequate grass for the second rotation, this can be addressed at a later stage.

Every farmer should know what an acceptable level of damage to their land is and broaching this level for the sake of increasing your grazed percentage this early on makes very little sense.

Where conditions do allow, grabbing a couple of hours at grass through on-off grazing will help chip away at covers.