So far, it’s been a very hard year to manage grass.
April and May were cold and wet, which left grass scarce, and with very poor ground conditions, at times grazing what was there was also very difficult.
Then when June came in, things dried up and temperatures began to rise - to put it mildly, grass went mental. The grass plant was under pressure for so long that when growing conditions did finally improve, all it wanted to do was put up a seed head.
And that’s exactly what happened - grass became stemmy very quickly.
On this farm, because half the stock were housed for most of May, I was able to take out more ground for first-cut silage than I normally would. However, when the grass on grazing block began to get stemmy, I wasn’t in a position to take out any more as bales, as I would have left myself short of grazing.
This left me in a situation where I had no choice but to graze very heavy covers, covers that I would normally be skipping over and baling. I did this by strip grazing and giving the cows a small strip of grass twice a day.
I wasn’t in a position to take out any more as bales, as I would have left myself short of grazing
Because the weather was dry and I was allocating fresh grass twice a day, I managed to get very good clean outs with very little ground damage.
However, I would imagine performance was not great due to the high stem to leaf ratio. It was a means to an end and although regrowth will be slow, quality should be good. Thankfully, I am almost finished grazing these heavy covers and will hopefully be grazing after grass within the next 10 days.
Based on my last grass measurement, I did decide to take out two acres of heavy covers for bales last week. This might leave a bit of a pinch point between finishing my heavy covers and being able to start my after grass.
I’m trying to slow down the rotation as much as possible to avoid this happening, and with good weather forecast for the next week, hopefully I’ll manage to keep things on track.
I have a neighbour topping some paddocks after the cows for me. The main reason for this is to cut docks and thistles, as there is really no grass left to cut. These are paddocks that I had intended to spray the weed in earlier in the spring, but didn’t get the opportunity.
I’m trying to slow down the rotation as much as possible to avoid this happening, and with good weather forecast for the next week, hopefully I’ll manage to keep things on track
Now the weeds are well past the rosette stage and not correct for spraying. Topping them will allow me to spray them at the correct stage and hopefully get a better kill.
Spraying weeds in grazing ground is always a bit of a juggling act. You want to leave them for a couple of weeks after grazing to allow them to be in a strong growing condition to take up the spray effectively and you can’t graze the paddock for at least seven days after spraying to allow the spray to work.
Of course you need the weather to play ball with you in the meantime… who’d be a farmer!