Grass growth over the last 10 days has been phenomenal and as a result, most farmers have closed additional paddocks and fields for silage because cows and cattle just won’t get to them.

I’m of the view that it pays to be more cautious around grass supply this year as the costs of rectifying a problem are much greater. I also think that grass growth rates could drop with a shot in a few weeks time as ground runs out of nitrogen and plants get hungry and worn out. This will have a negative impact on grass quality too.

Therefore, reducing stocking rate and demand for grass to a more sustainable level in advance of any drop in growth makes sense. The weather forecast for next week is looking very uncertain and therefore so are the opportunities to get silage cut next week.

That means it could be the last week in May before these surplus paddocks are cut, which might be too late for those with a lot of ground closed up. Main-crop silage crops are also looking good and some early fertilised crops are nearly ready for the chop. If there is an opportunity for cutting over the next few days I’d be inclined to take it.


There is still time for reseeding but it’s probably running out for those in low rainfall areas such as the southeast. New seeds will need regular rain until their roots are well developed and can burrow for water.

With the big surplus of grass that is available now, it’s a good opportunity to get some reseeding done. However, the first thing to check before going for the sprayer is how much silage is available, how much will be made and whether this is enough.

OK, if reseeding a poor sward the payback will be quick but only if the issues that lead to the poor sward are addressed such as soil fertility, drainage etc.

Typically it will be 50-60 days before a field sprayed off today will be grazed again by stock. Depending on silage stocks, an alternative to reseeding could be to spread silage fertiliser on that field and cut it in six weeks’ time.

Watch for signs of pests in new reseeds. It’s ideal weather for slugs, which are a particular problem around headlands. The Department of Agriculture is yet to issue emergency approval for clover-safe sprays on reseeds. It is expected shortly, but perhaps farmers should pre-order sprays off merchants now.


Dirty water troughs with algal blooms and other dirt or debris will limit water intake by cows. Water troughs should be cleaned out regularly and kept clean. It’s easy to do this with the new concrete troughs with bungs, but harder with older-type troughs.

Some farmers will pump out the water and then clean the trough. Considering milk is almost 90% water and as we head into summer when grass dry matter increases, the amount of water cows need to drink will increase.

Make sure cows have sufficient water. As herd size increases the pressure on the water supply does too. Smaller troughs will suffice once the pipe size delivering the water is big enough. The size of the flow through the ballcock can be a big problem, with fast-flow ballcocks making a huge difference.