Grazing: Weather conditions are ideal for grazing and land is drying out quickly. Farmers can be divided into;
Those in category one need to ration out what grass is left in the first rotation and make it stretch to the day they’re happy to start the second rotation.
In my view, this should be somewhere around 5 April, depending on stocking rate.
Go a bit earlier if lower stocked and delay it a few days if higher stocked.
If there is not enough grass in the area to be grazed per day, then the hole must be filled with silage and meal.
Both are expensive, but it’s better to feed them now, if required, than adopting a wait and see approach for April.
The weather is set to get cold again next week, which will temper growth rates.
Cows should be on a rising plane of nutrition in April and feeding silage or high levels of meal is the opposite of that. Those with a lot of grass on the farm can throw caution to the wind and drive on to get as much grass into cows as possible.
It’s a good opportunity to get fertiliser and slurry spread on all farms.
Lime: With a good forecast for the next week, it’s a great opportunity to get lime spread.
Anyone that has taken soil samples in the last two years and who didn’t correct pH levels since needs to take this opportunity.
Just correcting soil pH will lead to all other nutrients, including nitrogen, being much more available for plant growth and it will go some way towards addressing the issues coming down the line, with less chemical nitrogen being spread this year, less nitrogen available and the high cost of it.
It’s a big mistake to think you can get through this year with less nitrogen, or expect clover to perform if soil pH is inadequate.
Identify the fields that need lime and target them for lime after grazing over the next few weeks.
This might mean getting lime spread two or three times over the space of a month but so be it. The most that should be spread in any one go is 2t/ac and it shouldn’t be spread on covers above 300kg-400kg/ha in case it sticks to the grass.
If spreading lime on silage ground, spread slurry or urea first and then apply lime a week or so later.
Milk recording: Most farmers should have their first milk recording of the season completed at this stage.
It’s getting late to be recording now and still have data on how successful the dry period was for curing existing infections and preventing new ones.
This data is important as it helps to identify areas for improvement, which will become even more relevant from now on as blanket dry cow therapy can no longer be used.
In some areas, there is more demand for milk recording than the service can cater for, so early booking is essential. Milk recording is essential where SCC is high.
Use the results to identify the high cows and then quarter sample to identify the high quarters.