Get cows out where and when you can, in spite of current weather conditions, is the advice from Teagasc to farmers struggling with having animals housed.

Speaking at a Teagasc webinar on Tuesday night, research technologist at Ballyhaise Donal Patton said getting cows out to a drier part of the farm for a small period of the day can make a difference.

“Get them out and get moving.

“It’s not going to be perfect or anywhere near perfect, but it’s still better to have made an attempt to get some grass into the cow’s diet than to be sitting back waiting for perfection, because it’s just not going to come in a year like this.

“You have to go when you can,” he said.

Making a start

Patton advised farmers struggling to get animals out to identify the driest part of their farm and to begin grazing by getting cows out there for a period of the day.

“You just have to start. Obviously, I know there are a good number of people on this call with varying soil types, but within most farms there is some area where you have a chance, so go there and start,” he said.

The Teagasc researcher added that limiting cows’ time at grass can prevent too much damage being done, while still getting grass in the diet.

“Limit the time. There is a point where you just can’t go out, I understand that. That happens and has happened a lot this spring, but for the most part, if you limit the time the cows are on the paddock, it’s amazing what you can get away with.

“You just have to get going. You have to pick a place you know you have a chance. Go out, look at it and get going, if you haven’t started already,” he said.


If needs be, farmers should hold cows back after milking, Patton said, to better assess that day’s conditions.

“I’m not a fan of holding cows back after milking because it elongates labour and all the rest of it. In saying all that and in weather like this, sometimes you have to do that.

“If you’re milking, feeding calves and it’s absolutely bucketing rain, let the cows stand for half an hour or an hour, then go and see where you’re at.

“When you make the decision to have them in for the day, you’re not going to turn them out after that,” he said.

The webinar was held by Teagasc to advise farmers who are struggling with fodder supplies and having livestock housed due to the current wet weather.