With the current weather conditions grazing seems like a distance memory. However, with improved weather and ground conditions we could be grazing cows in 6 weeks. Therefore, now is the time to prepare your paddocks, tracks and start measuring your grass.

Covered in this section - Things to consider before grazing


  • Fencing
  • Cow Tracks
  • Water trough condition and drinking space
  • Buffer diets for the transition to grazing
  • AgriNet – start measuring grass


Where ground conditions allow, now is the time to maintain and establish new fences ahead of the grazing season. You should also consider if your paddocks are the right size for the herd size and whether temporary fences are required to improve grazing management and utilisation of the grass?

Cow Tracks

The maintenance of cow tracks is crucial for them to perform in terms of cow flow and cow comfort.

  • The top of the track should be replaced with fine stone, organic material and we are seeing astroturf laid on the top of the track working extremely well at improving cow flow.
  • Ensure there are no sharp edges on the track.
  • Make sure that tracks drain well.
  • Problem areas such as gateways should be identified and options such as rotation of field entrances and exits, or wider openings should be considered.
  • Tracks should be fenced with single strand or double if used for youngstock of high tensile electric wire. Barbed wire is not suitable for cow tracks.

Cow track size requirements

Number of cows in the herd Minimum width of the track (surfaced)
200 4m
300 5m
400 6m
500 7m

Indication of track problem includes:

  • Increased lameness during the grazing season.
  • High levels of sole bruising, foul in the foot and white line disease.
  • Bottlenecks in the cow flow during herding.
  • Cows tending to walk along the verges or single line.
  • Cows walk slower than 3 miles per hour on track.

Dairy consultants - freelance farm managers

Water Troughs – Water is the key!

  • Are you sure that all water troughs are working and providing clean, fresh water?
  • Have cows got access to plenty of water troughs?
  • Do troughs fill up quickly enough to cope with the number of cows?

Buffer Diets 

Having the correct buffer diets in place for the transition to grazing is key. Testing your grass regularly will ensure we can balance the diets throughout the grazing season. Ensure you have magnesium in stock to start supplementing cows before turnout to prevent grass staggers. The grass will be very low in available magnesium as the grass growth rates increase.


Starting to measure grass in the next couple of weeks will allow you to monitor how the growth rates are improving. You can then plan to ensure the grass wedge is maintained and enough grass to maintain the herd once turned out. You can also match the kg/grazing/cow to the buffer diets adjusted throughout the season.

The regular measurement of grass combined with frequent movement of animals between paddocks will result in a farm growing more tonnes of a higher quality grass. Since grazed grass is the cheapest and a high quality form of feed this will result in higher farm profits.

If you would like assistance setting up AgriNet, training in plate metering and interpreting resulting, please call our independent farm consultants here at DGCL.

Setting up AgriNet with our farm consultants

Recovering Soils from Excess Water

With the recent wet weather a lot of nitrogen will of been lost from the soil, which will impact the nitrogen availability come Spring. When there is excess water in the soil pores it means there will be anaerobic conditions therefore nitrogen is lost through denitrification. Using Urea based products in the early Spring will reduce potential leaching compare to Ammonium Nitrate (AN).  

It is important to consider options to improve drainage of soils such as using a grassland aerator, it is key to do this in the early Spring before significant growth as otherwise you may damage the root structure.