The late start to spring will have implications for both grass quality and cow performance. Grass quality is invariably compromised particularly where over wintered wedges have not been grazed, leading to lower energy grass with less water-soluble carbohydrates. We have seen a significant range in grass values in the early season, particularly where fields were grazed harder over the winter either via cattle or in particular, via tack sheep. This has allowed a fresher regrowth which responds to sun, water, temperature and nitrogen more effectively.
Farmers are faced with many dilemma’s all at once, but planning is essential to ensure sufficient grass is available at the right stage for grazing and to maximise first cut yields. Fertiliser applications have been compromised due to water logging and low soil temperatures, leading to various future questions – (1) How much 1st cut silage do I need? (2) How do we manage the grass when it does grow? (3) How much fertiliser do we apply? and what? to when?
Lows and mid yielders should be used to clear certain wedges whilst some grazing paddocks will accelerate past the grazing block before we have time to graze them. By planning now, we can reduce the damage of this slow spring and make timely silage cuts to re-enter paddocks to the grazing block at the correct growth stage (circa 2,800kg DM/ha).
Freshly calved high yielders (particularly 30litres+) need sufficient fermentable energy to provide glucose requirements, milk production and aid fertility. Grass fermentability is lower this spring but the cow’s requirements are the same. If they are to graze now, additional fermentable energy needs to be offered. How we go about adding this additional fermentable energy is crucial especially regarding avoiding acidosis.
For help with your forage planning, please contact Wesley at firstname.lastname@example.org or your local FCG Office.