After what was already a relatively wet summer, the autumn weather is really testing morale on farms across the country.
For obvious reasons those hardest hit are farmers on heavy land. Many have been forced to house cows for periods over the last few days.
Despite better weather in the forecast for the coming week, it is likely that more farmers will be reaching for the shear grab rather than the reel and temporary fence because land is so wet.
There is only so much poaching that can be tolerated. If land is waterlogged then cows must be taken off. The problem at this stage is that most of the low hanging fruit has already been picked because the weather has been bad for the past few weeks.
The low hanging fruit is grazing drier paddocks, grazing lighter covers, using 12-hour breaks, back fencing and on/off grazing.
When all these options are exhausted and damage is still being done, then housing is the only option. But silage is a poor replacement for grass. It is lower in energy and protein so extra meal is needed when cows are housed.
Some farmers are saying that grass dry matters are too low for cows. It is really only when dry matter goes below 12% that intakes are affected because the cow struggles to take in enough fresh weight to get her 16 or 17kg of dry matter intake.
Where cows need to come in the priority must be to get them back out as soon as possible. Check the forecast regularly and check the condition of fields regularly.
Feed the higher quality silage first. How much meal to feed depends on silage quality and the herd’s production, but the meal and price equation suggests that as little meal as possible should be fed.