Grass growth rates continue to power ahead on most farms. All the ingredients are there for growth – heat, moisture and nitrogen. As a result, farmers contributing the Grass+ page are growing at around 75kg per day for the previous seven days.
Such high growth rates present a challenge as it is harder to maintain quality. Even after-grass, which is normally the best quality grass, has become stemmy on many farms. Grass appears to be getting stemmy at a lower pre-grazing yield than normal.
Farmers must be proactive in walking the farm and skipping over paddocks that are gone too strong and are stemmy. The weather for this week is mixed; with most areas getting showers so opportunities to cut silage will be limited enough but the weather for the weekend is looking more settled.
Be careful not to skip over too many paddocks at once. I would be slow to let average farm cover per cow drop below 150kg unless you are a) certain you can cut the surplus paddocks immediately, or b) have a very low demand and a high growth rate.
Some farmers are finding that cows are going through after-grass paddocks very fast. This is because the dry matter in the after-grass is probably lower than other paddocks (more leaf) and also because cows will increase their intake when grazing leafier grass.
When mowing paddocks for silage, make sure that the mower is set good and low to get a low cutting height. I was walking through paddocks the other day that were recently cut for bales, but the post-cutting height was probably 5cm or 6cm. While cutting lower will slow regrowths, it will greatly improve the quality of the subsequent sward and improve growth rates later in the year as there will be more sunlight getting to the tillers.
Clover seems to be a bit slower to get going this year compared with other years but should start to kick in soon. It is better to graze fields with a high clover content rather than cut them for silage as clover can take over a sward after a heavy cut of silage.