Most of the UK, Brittany & coastal parts of Northern Ireland are very dry & this is severely affecting pasture growth on most grass based dairy farms. Exceptions are southern Scotland, most of Wales & most of Ireland where there has been good rains & very good pasture growth.
Many paddocks have recorded negative growth as pastures dry in the warm sun & drying winds & some farms have recorded total losses of DM pasture.Many organic farms have recorded as good growth rates as the conventional farms if they have a strong clover base. This might also be related to increases in soil organic material in the top soil which retains moisture better.
Don't Get Too Excited!
Firstly evaporation has far exceeded most of the recent rain over the past two months....& this is on top of very dry subsoils since the winter. Secondly even though the platemeters have indicated less pasture it maybe that the increases in dry matter more than compensate for the lower readings..............however now that most areas have had at least showers....pastures might change dramatically. New growth will be very low in DM% & some of the old dry material may start to break down..........end result a big drop in average covers even though there is some growth.
Stick to the longer rotations
Whatever you do don't shorten the grazing rotations (even if there is very little in the paddocks). A long round doesn't do much while its still dry (No growth is NO Growth) but a long round will mean a much quicker recovery once we have sufficient soil moisture for sustained growth. Remember the plant energy reserves!!!
Don't deplete them with fast rotations & frequent grazing.
Most herds are now on heavy feeding.....no options for most farms in the drier areas.
Some farmers have been quick to convert cereal crops into wholecrop silage....a very good option especially with lower world grain prices forecast. There may well still be options for dairy farmers to convince their cereal neighbours into selling the crop as wholecrop.
I've been very impressed with some of the organic wholecrops I've seen in both Brittany & the UK. They have grown well (perhaps too well for the clover undersown) & will make good feed options especially with a strong component of legumes. I particularly like the look of Vetch as the legume/protein in these organic crops.
Organic Wholecrop (including Peas) in Cotswolds.
Organic Wholecrop (including Vetch) in Brittany France
Pasture Covers & Growth this week
Northern Ireland Av. Cover 2026, 53kg Growth, 32 day rotation, Demand 54kgs
Dumfries 1975, 65, 19days Good soaking rain every 3 days!!
North Wales 2318, 103kg growth, 25 days Good rain over past 2 weeks
Cheshire Zero growth low covers about to graze 1800's
Shropshire 2080, 41kg, 32 days light showers
Staffordshire 1765, 12kgs, 34 days light showers recently
East Staffordshire 1850, 6kg, 45 days Very dry but some light showers yesterday
Leicestershire 2350, minus growth, 30 days 4mm rain today but very dry
Herefordshire 2200, 33kgs, 30 days good rain
Herefordshire 1980, 40, 35 days
Gloucestershire 1852, 17kg, 42 days seriously dry not grazing at nights
South West Wales organic 2249, 52kgs, 27 days regular rain very green
South West Wales 2454, 92kgs, 21 days Demand 41 Plenty of rain
Somerset organic 1930, 10kg growth, No rain for a month
Dorset 1935, 13kg growth, 60 days, very little rain
East Sussex organic 1500, less than 20kg No rain
Devon 2160, 68kgs, 40 days no recent rain
Cornwall 1950, 25kgs, 37 days Very dry
South Coast of Ireland 2310, 71kgs growth, 23 days rotation, 3 days of good rain
Pasture growth rates are at the two extremes either very high or none existant if no rain.