We progressed over the last two weeks from constantly looking at weather forecasts for some blue drops to checking the rain gauge to see how much had fallen and, thankfully, we are back up and running again.
Over 80mm of rain fell in the last two weeks - a welcome return to normal service with grass growth and supply.
We have reduced meal-feeding to 3kg from a high of 5kg, and will reduce to 2kg over the next few days. We managed to keep silage out of the diet by feeding some stronger covers to the cows, which didn’t help mid-season protein levels, but tests are rising well again as we move back into better quality swards.
We have also reduced protein in the concentrate feed back to 14% as the protein rises in the grass again, as indicated by a recovery in milk urea levels this week.
We covered the farm with a round of 18-6-12 with sulphur, as we started to get enough rain to help to reduce some of the stress in the swards and to hopefully encourage some quality back into the grass, without checking clover too much.
The rain has really driven on the clover and other multi-species plants that we over-sowed this spring. They were struggling for the last month, but are very visible now when walking through paddocks.
Hopefully, the clover especially will reduce the need to apply as much artificial nitrogen on the farm over the next few years.
All of this has gone in on the grazing ground so far, so we will have a look at silage ground next year and see if we can make a few changes there too.
For this year, we will have to stick to the bag and slurry to grow our main supply of winter feed, so we are grazing off the stemmy, stressed aftergrass that grew during the drought before applying fertiliser for the next cut of silage.
Moving heifer calves to out-block
With the boost in grass supply and quality, we are also moving most of the heifer calves off to the out-block at last. We have been giving them a bale of hay and some concentrates since turnout, with weather and grass growth a struggle for most of these girls' grazing experiences so far.
Ideally, they will get a more normal experience of a grass-based diet for the rest of the year, with some multi-species included as it gets established. It’s only been sown for two weeks, but it’s already well up with all the heat and rain, so we should get back in to graze it in early August with a bit of luck.
Some extra 'TLC'
We drafted out the lightest of the heifer calves for some extra TLC near the yard for another few weeks. We will keep a bale of hay with them and a small bit of extra feeding until the re-seed is ready.
We might move them to a paddock off that and try to keep them separate for another month or so, to give them a chance to catch up on the older calves.
Most of the rest of the time in the yard is being spent on tidying up and washing the winter accommodation before the holiday season starts.
The bulls will finish up at the end of the month and we have a herd test early in July, but hopefully we can wind down a bit after that for the second half of the year and take a few days' holiday away from the farm.