It’s been a very tough summer for harvesting both grain and silage over the last month, but we might get a bit of a window this week to get some silage made and for the local tillage farmers to get a few more fields harvested and maybe even tidy up some straw.
The straw situation has deteriorated every week as we moved through the summer, with the straw chopping scheme and nitrates pressure already reducing availability this harvest.
The quality and quantity of the straw on offer has then taken a significant hit with the weather over the last few months.
The spring crops look very light, so it was very disappointing to see the later winter crops hitting the ground in less than ideal conditions again, but hopefully some of it can be baled up without too much delay.
We got a small bit of silage made in average enough conditions last week as part of a Valtra and McHale machinery demonstration. The work was done for free, which was a huge bonus with costs where they are this year, but the weather was just shy of where it needed to be for dry silage.
In hindsight, the bales made might be a bit wetter than ideal, but it was good to get another bit of ground cleared and regrowing to help build up grass for the autumn.
It would be nice now to get the next bit of silage into the pit as dry as possible, to keep feed quality up and to keep effluent to the minimum around the yard for the next few weeks.
If we can get that job out of the way early this week, we could have the bonus of having a tractor and butterfly mower system available to do some of the mowing for us, so hopefully we can get this to work out.
In an ideal world, we would get the silage cut early in the week and get slurry and fertiliser back out as quickly as possible to kick the grass back into gear for autumn grazing.
We spread 23 units of protected urea on all of the grazing ground last week to keep grass moving forward into the autumn.
The wet summer is suiting the farm well enough, with grass supply very strong across the summer. We baled 10% of the milking platform two weeks ago, so the delay in silage cutting hasn’t affected us too much around home.
The heifer block, on the other hand, has a few paddocks that need to be cut urgently to get grass coming back for the autumn.
We had one cow down with TB in the annual herd test last month, so we will have to carry more animals than planned into the winter this year, which will put pressure on grass supply for these animals over the next few months.
Hopefully, it is just a blip and hasn’t spread through the herd. We will know more in early September when we test again, but the earliest we can go clear is in early November at this stage. We have been clear for over 15 years, so it is very disappointing and unexpected to have an issue now.
We have enough silage and accommodation on the farm to get through the winter with the current stock numbers if we cull a few extra cows to the factory early and we have enough time to squeeze in three tests before calving, so hopefully we will get any issues ironed out by then.
Wait and see
Unfortunately, it’s becoming very common across the country in recent years and there are many herds out there which are a lot more impacted than we are so far.
There’s not much that we can do other than wait and see how the next test goes in September and adjust our plans as necessary for the rest of the year and for the coming winter.