Up to now, this autumn was a relatively easy one to manage grass, at least from an actual grazing point of view.

Growth rates have been much higher than normal for the past five weeks, but these are really only playing catch-up after the very low growth rates in August.

The big win however, was the excellent ground conditions which have meant that grass utilisation was excellent, almost everywhere.

That is now set to change and the last 24 hours has been the instigator of that with a lot of heavy rain across most of the country.

Land doesn’t dry out properly at this time of year because daylight hours are decreasing sharply. There are more hours of darkness now than light.

Wet weather management

So, with more rain on the way all of this is pointing to the fact that farmers need to prepare for wet weather management.

This involves grazing 12-hour breaks and using on/off grazing where necessary to limit damage. There may be periods where cows will need to be housed so ensure that winter accommodation is ready.

Are automatic scrapers working, are all cubicles in place and gates hanging, water troughs fitted and mats in place?

Make sure and have plenty of fencing reels and pigtails at the ready because these are necessary tools for grazing in wet weather – they often go missing or get lost over the summer months.

Have a plan in place for where to graze when conditions turn very wet. These “go-to” paddocks should be dry and not have too much grass on them.

The same steps apply to youngstock. Often, these can do more damage than cows because they do more walking in wet weather.

Using 24-hour breaks will help to minimise damage during the worst of the weather.

Remember, there is at most about four weeks of grazing left on most farms so it's worth putting the effort in to get the most out of grass.