Difficult conditions: Grazing conditions around the country continue to be difficult, with higher than average rainfall for May being experienced almost everywhere.
Try to keep spring cows and calves outside so as to not upset breeding or conception rates. Many farms with autumn-calving cows have decided to wean early and house autumn cows. Autumn calves can then remain outdoors.
On heavy farms it has been a few weeks since there have been any fertiliser applications so it’s important to use the next weather window to get fertiliser out once ground conditions allow. A bag of pasture sward/acre will help to kickstart growth again.
Kale: The next few weeks is the time to sow kale if you want to winter young stock or cows on it next winter.
With weather improving, there should be a suitable window to sow it in the next two weeks. You can plough and till the field or some farmers will spray off a silage crop before cutting and direct drill the seed into the aftermath and then plough and reseed with grass next spring when kale is finished.
Aim for a field that drys out quickly and this will ease management next winter. Kale requires extra labour during the winter moving fences and checking stock daily. You also need good fences and a strong electric fence to make sure it is grazed properly.
It’s a good idea to place a line of silage bales in the field at sowing time and then the feeder can be moved with the fence at feeding time in winter. Animals also need access to 1ha of a lieback area in order to meet cross-compliance requirements.
Sowing rate depends on the sowing method. If sowing via broadcast, sow 3-3.5kg/ac. If direct drilling, sow at 2-2.5kg/ac. Kale requires high fertility levels and optimum pH is 6-6.7. You will need to spread three bags/acre of 10:10:20 at sowing time and top-dress with two bags CAN/ac later.
Safety in the yard: The next few weeks will see children get their summer holidays from school. If the forecasted good weather comes, it will coincide with a busy few weeks on farms.
Take care where young children are around a yard and especially if there are visitors around who are unaware of the dangers. If silage is taking place, keep them as far away from the yard as possible. If they want to see what’s going on, be sure you are with them and wait until the yard is quiet to do it.
Be sure to get sufficient rest as accidents are more likely to happen when you are tired or lose concentration. Take some time to cut any verges back around gates coming out on to public roads to increase visibility and remind everybody that is working on the farm that safety is number one.
A conversation around farm safety could trigger a mindset change and could help avoid an accident on your farm. Remember you are the most important cog in your farm machine, look after that cog.