The objective of this study was to investigate the immediate and carryover effects of imposing two post-grazing sward heights (PGSH) for varying duration during early lactation on sward characteristics and dairy cow production. The experiment was a randomised block design with a 2×2 factorial arrangement of treatments. A total of 80 spring-calving (mean calving date – 6 February) dairy cows were randomly assigned, pre-calving, to one of the two (n=40) PGSH treatments – S (2.7 cm) and M (3.5 cm) – from 13 February to 18 March, 2012 (P1). For the subsequent 5-week period (P2: 19 March to 22 April, 2012), half the animals from each P1 treatment remained on their treatment, whereas the other half of the animals switched to the opposing treatment. Following P2, all cows were managed similarly for the remainder of the lactation (P3: 23 April to 4 November, 2012) to measure the carryover effect. Milk production, BW and body condition score were measured weekly, and grass dry matter intake (GDMI) was measured on four occasions – approximately weeks 5, 10, 15 and 20 of lactation. Sward utilisation (above 2.7 cm; P1 and P2) was significantly improved by reducing the PGSH from 3.5 (0.83) to 2.7 cm (0.96). There was no effect of PGSH on cumulative annual grass dry matter (DM) production (15.3 t DM/ha). Grazing to 2.7 cm reduced GDMI by 1.7 and 0.8 kg DM/cow in P1 and P2, respectively, when compared with 3.5 cm (13.3 and 14.0 kg/cow per day, respectively). Cows grazing to 2.7 cm for both P1 and P2 (SS) tended to have reduced cumulative 10-week milk yield (−105 kg) and milk solids yield (−9 kg) when compared with cows grazing to 3.5 cm for both periods (MM; 1608 and 128 kg/cow, respectively). Treatments that alternated PGSH at the end of P1, SM and MS had intermediate results. There was no interaction between P1 and P2 treatments. There was also no carryover effect of early lactation grazing regime on milk and milk solids production in P3, given the reduction in early lactation milk yield. The results indicate that the diet of dairy cows should not be restricted by imposing a severe PGSH for all of the first 10 weeks of lactation, cows should graze to 3.5 cm for at least 5 of these weeks.