SUDDENLY, spring appears to have arrived. The first heifers will go out today with another group next week after a PD session. We are a bit old fashioned as far as lungworm is concerned and still stick to Dictol. The young heifers born since September have now had their second dose but will stay in until after first cut.
I dont think we will have much of a conventional first cut in that we have increased the maize acreage to 200. On top of that, we have reseeded 70 acres of perennials which this winter finally confirmed were completely worn out. They have all been sown with a cover crop of spring barley in an attempt to enhance this years production. This only leaves about 100 acres to do in May. We used to have between 350 and 400 acres of first cut!
The clever bit (I hope) is this years catch crop of Italian ryegrass. The real benefit of a mixed dairy/arable farm is taking advantage of crop timings to benefit both sectors. Part of the farm follows a rotation of wheat, winter barley, catch crop Italian ryegrass, and maize. This gives us four crops in three years.
That is the theory anyway with this year being the first full run at it. If the timing works out, the rewards are terrific. A weeks heavy rain at a critical time can drop us between two stools. High dry matter silage from Italian ryegrass at the end of April in Cheshire is not something one can guarantee.
My plan is to pre-silage spray with a low rate Round-up type material about five days before cutting. I have not done this before in a full crop of grass but it should chase out some of the moisture and increase the dry matter to a significant extent. The plough can then start even while the chopper is in the field and the maize can go into a nice clean seedbed. I will tell you next month if we are successful.
At the recent Genus conference at Reasheath, the emphasis was clearly on extended grazing. Get the cows out earlier and keep them out later. The fact that the meeting was on April 2 with literally no cows out anywhere was not relevant.
I seem to remember identical meeting 30 years ago. We are not living in Ireland or New Zealand and we must not get carried away thinking we are. Our large UK herds and grey damp climate leads quickly to poaching.n
Geoff Vickers Italian ryegrass will be sprayed five days before cutting for high DM silage in late April.