Autumn average farm cover (AFC) targets on many farms will not be reached this year, with many having to settle for lower covers.

While many farms suffered from drought-like conditions in recent weeks, farms on heavier soil types experienced good growth rates throughout.

For these farmers, it is now important that they look at the AFC and determine if they are on target for the autumn.

AFC targets

For the farms that had good growth rates during this dry period, it is important that you continue to walk your farm once a week.

You should compare you average farm cover to the target for your stocking rate.

AFC targets based on stocking rates:

  • 2.5 livestock units (LU)/ha – 1,000kg of dry matter (DM)/ha AFC;
  • 3.0 LU/ha – 1,050kg DM/ha AFC;
  • 3.5 LU/ha – 1,100kg DM/ha AFC.

It is important to remember that this is only a target, so if it is not achieved there is no need to worry yet.

Your average farm cover should peak in the coming weeks as farms begin to enter into the final rotation. During the final rotation ground condition can become tricky so it is important that you are somewhat flexible and manage ground conditions.

The final rotation is key for setting up your farm for spring, while also maximising the benefit of grazed grass late in the season.


On farms where grass growth was hindered by poor growth rates, supplementary feeding will need to stay in the diet.

You should be aiming to get to between 75-80% of your normal AFC for this time of year. This will not be achieved if silage is removed from the diet and demand on the milking platform is increased.

You need to keep demand low and build grass covers ahead of cows, while grass growth is still good.

Once we enter October, grass growth rates will reduce, so the more grass that is available for grazing the better.