Grass surpluses beside mini-droughts in year of weather surprises

Finally we are getting a prolonged spell of warm, settled weather.

Grass growth is excellent, but with surpluses emerging on most farms.

Heavier ground, in particular, is growing huge volumes of grass.

As usual, however, not everybody is happy.

Some are experiencing a mini-drought already, resulting in stressed grass swards heading out early.

It is amazing how quickly things turn around, when we get good weather.

For those experiencing a drought on their farm, it is essential that grass is managed very carefully.

Try to slow down the rotation, if growth has slowed down.

This will involve feeding additional ration to cattle which are already being fed, and introducing ration to other stock.

It may also require feeding round bale silage, if it is available, to slow down the rotation.

Whatever happens — it is only the month of July, so don’t leave animals run out of grass before you start thinking about what you will do to feed them.

Feeding meal to stretch grass

Creep feeding of suckler calves will help to reduce grass demand.

Many weaned dairy-bred calves on grass are getting little or no meal; again upping or reintroducing meal will save grass.

Starting to feed meal to forward stores on grass will slow down the rotation, while getting animals used to meal before being pushed for finish.

Some will also need to consider bringing in cattle intended for slaughter later in the year.

Commencing the finishing period a little earlier will take the pressure of the grazing platform.

Surplus grass

For those with a grass surplus, it is essential that it is taken out immediately.

Consider getting the man cutting it to lift the mower an inch higher than normal in the paddocks, so that it is not too bare, allowing for quicker re-growth. Green fields grow faster than yellow ones, especially when it is dry.

Second cut silage

Many who cut their first cut in mid-May are already on the point of taking a second cut, with reports of good bulk.

For those who cut a little later, the second cut is a few weeks away.

Try to take a good quality second cut, to reduce balancing costs next winter.

There is still the opportunity to take a third cut, if necessary to bulk up stocks.

Water

During the dry spell, keep a close eye on the water supply around the farm.

Ensure that cattle have sufficient water available; they can become very stressed when dehydrated.

Thirsty cattle will eat less, resulting in poorer growth and weight gain, as well as milk production.

Fly Control

Obviously, during any very warm spell, insects are going to be more common, and they cause increased irritation to cattle.

If the animals become affected by this, you may need to treat stock for external parasites.


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