The next few weeks will more than likely see a lot of yo-yo farming going on. This is where farms go from one extreme to the next such as feeding silage last week to making silage next week to being short of grass two weeks later - that kind of thing.

Grass growth is very high at present and looks set to continue to be high for another week or so before it’ll probably drop a bit and then plateau. I imagine that with less chemical nitrogen applied on most farms compared to other years, that the period of peak growth will be shorter lived than normal.

To avoid costly yo-yo farming, it’s crucial that decisions are made in good time and with good information. Input costs, and indeed milk prices, are too high for guesswork.

Farms must be walked every five or six days in this weather. Even if you don’t put figures down on what cover is in each paddock, the act of checking what grass is available and counting how many days the cows are away from going into it is extremely valuable information.

Maintain pre-grazing levels at 1,300kg to 1,500kg/ha and skip over the rest for silage. If stocking rate is high then these surplus paddocks should be cut straight away but if stocking rate is low, they can be let bulk up and cut in a few weeks.


The next fortnight will be the last real chance to get clover established. I see some farmers going gung-ho at over-sowing which is fine once they have a way of managing it afterwards. It needs to be grazed at low covers and nitrogen needs to be restricted in order to stunt the grass.

It’s not straightforward and I would say more farmers have tried and failed to get clover established through over-sowing than have been successful. Those that have been successful at it all say doing small areas at the right time of the year and managing it properly afterwards are all key.

On fields that already have good clover established, now is the time to start using less, or no more nitrogen. To get clover to fix as much nitrogen as possible, it should get as little chemical nitrogen as possible. April and May are the months when clover fields should be weaned off chemical nitrogen.

Because clover doesn’t really take off until June, these fields can look a bit hungry and have slower growth in May. Organic farmers tell me that May can be a tight month for grass as clover doesn’t take off until June.


At this stage, those that carried out pre-breeding heat detection should know what cows aren’t cycling. Others will know after three weeks. It’s advisable to get these cows scanned to see what the problem is.

Some won’t be cycling because they haven’t been calved long enough while others may have a cyst or some other issue that needs drugs to fix.

In the majority of cases most of the cows will just need more time, or the vet can prescribe prostaglandin to speed them up. Leaving this cohort of cows to do their own thing is too much of a risk to take. To achieve a 90% submission rate, you should be serving about 4% of the herd per day on average in the first three weeks.