The change in weather last weekend brought an end to what has been a very kind start to 2019. A number of farms are carrying high covers, however despite ideal conditions for much of February, it proved difficult for many to reach the target of 30% grazed by 1st March.
With high covers set to become even more difficult now that ground conditions have deteriorated, what practices can we apply to get the most from our swards?
If conditions are very wet, try graze lower covers if you have them. This will mean animals are offered a greater area, and so, are less likely to soil grass and trample it into the ground.
Turn cows out with an appetite. If you have fed silage, hold cows in the yard for a few hours to increase appetite. Once they are turned out, they will be more likely to graze aggressively and spend less time walking and wasting grass.
Use on/off grazing for a few days if necessary, turning cows out to grass for 2 × 3 hour periods after milking. When the cows are housed at night, provide some silage, but limit it so that they will be finished the silage by approximately 4am. Cows will therefore have a good appetite once they are turned out after milking. However, if the forecast is poor in the long term, this may not be a suitable option.
Move cattle and young stock at the same time each day. They will become accustomed to when they are due fresh grass and therefore not get upset every time they see a person.
If conditions improve, take the opportunity to graze heavier covers when the ground dries up. Grazing the heavy covers will be critical to ensuring recovery and growth for the 2nd rotation.