Farmer Focus: Aftermaths slow to bounce back

It hardly seems any time at all since my last article, which can only mean we’ve had a busy month.

First-cut silage was taken on the 14 May in great conditions. That’s probably about a week earlier than usual for us and yields were back about 1t/ha, given we’ve only filled one clamp.

Quality should, hopefully, be good though and it will almost be ready for analysing. 

See also: Zero grazing cuts concentrate costs by £24k on Scottish dairy

About the author

Colin Murdoch
Ayrshire farmer and zero grazer Colin Murdoch switched from Holsteins to milking 225 Jerseys in 2019. The 182ha farm grows 40ha of winter and spring barley for a total mixed ration and parlour fed system supplying Graham’s Family Dairy.
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We actually ran out of last year’s silage a few days later. I’m all for using feed efficiently, but that was just a little bit close for comfort!

Aftermaths have been slow to come away because, and I hasten to say this, we’ve had very little rain. 

The cows are now receiving only zero-grazed grass in the feed passage and concentrates in the parlour.

I feel we’ve probably been spoiling the cows a bit with too much so it will be interesting to see how they adjust to a higher forage-based diet when grass quality is at its peak.

We also done 5ha of hay for the dry cows. 

They are currently eating 80kg fresh weight per head per day and yields are holding at 22 litres.

Hopefully, we can maintain quality grass in front of them as June is always a bit of a battle to stop grass going to stem.

Any recent reseeds we’ve done for grazing have been later-maturing, dense swards for this reason.

Spring crops have found the moisture below the surface and all, apart from one field, are looking well so far. 

We do have one field of triticale destined for wholecrop that has taken a pummelling from pigeons.

I did wonder about overseeding with grass, but it was sprayed with a pre-emergence at drilling, so that’s hit that idea on the head. 

It’s not bad enough to plough again, but yields will be down unless anyone can give me a bright idea?

Winter barley has fairly perked up with the heat and an extra 63kg nitrogen (50 units). This will be combined before going back into grass in August.

We always prefer an autumn reseed as there’s less weed pressure.

My dad, Jim, was 80 this month and we welcomed more than 60 of his friends here for an afternoon of croquet, drinks, then dinner at the golf course opposite the farm.

A great day was had by all and a fantastic £1,000 was raised in aid of local charity the Hansel Foundation, for which Dad has been fundraising for more than 30 years.