Tuesday, 26 April 2011

"In Charge of the Impossible" that's a cow man's lot.

As we surveyed the new "Pasture Grazing Wedge" after the farm walk this week, the Herdsman said "In Charge of the Impossible....thats a cow man's lot"

It seems to sum up the current difficult seasonal conditions in most areas of the UK.

Faced with the unusual most people need to share ideas & an onfarm discussion is a really good idea right now!

If you need help ask....phone me!

A check of the long range forecasts confirm this frustration on the farm.

It's important to slow the grazing rotation when the pasture growth slows. Most pasture grazing wedges are very flat or they have a gaping hole indicating a shortfall. It's the short grass post grazing that has slowed down the most.

Act immediately...you are lucky your pasture measurements have given you at least 10 days notice of changes...this is when pasture monitoring pays huge dividends.

The risk is that the average pasture cover will fall & you lose control of your wedge. You may need to graze silage crops!

Check for 3 leaves before grazing it only takes a minute each day. Write down your management decisions.
Pastures are showing early signs of moisture stress. Even if N has been applied there is not a uniform response over the whole paddock. Urine patches are very clearly visible....high nitrogen application plus a large bucket of water = lush green growth. Insufficient rain leaves most of the grass struggling after grazing = pale green low growth some plant stress.
This is exceptional spring weather on top of a very dry past 12 months over most of the UK. On most farms there will be a spectacular response when it rains but this might be short lived as sub soil moisture is very low.....plan on it being a dry summer & take risk management decisions now....otherwise it could be a very expensive year.

Most herds report that cows are cycling normally. Milk solids YTD is up on most farms so the unusually weather has not yet affected milk production.The soils are cracking on many farms....never a good sign... often poor soil structure but currently due to the exceptional dry period with above average temperatures.

Cows appear to be in very good condition on most farms but most herds have 10% at the tail end.....Check the Body Condition Scores.....most group members have put these thinner cows on OAD milking. They often cycle within a week on OAD. "Vets seem to be very good at getting cows to cycle but not so good at getting them in calf" a comment from this weeks group meeting.

This is NOT the time to underfeed cows premating.

I understand the quote this week from a Herdsman " In Charge of the Impossible" neither he nor I can make it rain.

Current UK Pasture Measurements

No rain over most of the UK plus above average temperatures has decreased pasture growth on many pasture based dairy farms this week. Some farms are going back into silage crops & virtually all farms are being forced to lengthen the grazing rotations some out as far as 40 days to maintain the grazing wedge.

Many farms reporting that it is the recently grazed pasture that is under the most moisture stress & growth rates have slowed to about 20kgs/ha/day on those paddocks.

Average Pasture Cover (kgsDM/ha) & Pasture Growth (kgsDM/ha/day)

Cumbria 2150, growth 80kgs, covers well up on last week

Nth Wales 2052, 67 some showers this week

Staffordshire 2040, 41 (demand 54) very dry

Staffordshire 2067, 49

East Staffordshire 1800 (2250 whole farm), 31 growth, will cut 3 for silage, 40 day

Derbyshire growth 62 same cover

Nottingham 2100, 80, demand = 70 Very dry

Shropshire 2157,38 (growth dropped), demand = 44

Oxfordshire 2090, 70 surprised at growth as very dry

Herefordshire organic, 2123, 49

Gloucestershire, growth dropped 20 to 78, covers down slightly

Gloucestershire, 2000, 70 compared to 77 last week, Very dry

Dorset, covers same, growth 70, pregrazing 3400 residuals 1600

East Sussex, 2002, 56

Devon, 2500, 70, 20% of farm shut for silage

Cornwall, 2400, 90

North Germany, growth slow, very dry no rain, staying on OAD milking

Brittany, France, Very dry & warm

1 comment:

  1. The effect of the dry weather is being seen here. Hillsborough Grass check plot at Paddy Lennon’s farm had 67 growth last week, down to 63 this week. Wheras in Fermanagh (the wet west) growth was 83 last week and is over 100 this week!