Farmer Focus: Parlour feed upped to 4kg after farm dries out

The farm is drying out fast and there isn’t any rain to be seen in the forecast well into July.

Grass growth slowed rapidly in mid-June and has now almost ground to a halt. Our reaction has been to slow the grazing round length down to 30 days, so as to not graze the whole farm in two weeks and be left with nothing.

Reducing the daily grazing area can result in the cows’ diet not being met by grass alone, so we’re feeding silage and have upped the feed in the parlour back to 4kg.

We have also moved off all the weaned calves to our silage block where they are now getting fresh breaks of grass each day and will keep getting a bit of supplement to reduce their grass demand.

See also: Q&A: Managing soil pH and lime deficiencies

We only sheeted the pit down in May and are now opening it back up. While the main purpose of our pit is to cover a summer dry period, it’s still hugely frustrating following the slow spring.

However, feeding silage out on rock hard ground in the sun beats doing it in the middle of winter, and with grass dry matter being through the roof the cows are very content.

To keep things simple we put the feed out onto the grazing break with a rear discharge spreader that’s hired in – this way cows eat the silage while out on the grazing. There is minimal waste, no extra cow movement to and from feed areas and no muck to deal with.

The fine weather has meant we’ve been able to make hay for the first time since converting to dairy – something that has definitely been met with my dad’s approval – and anything we can do to reduce the volume of silage wrap used is welcome.

We have been delighted to welcome Aberystwyth University graduate Zoe into our team. She already has a year’s experience on a block-calving farm and has merged seamlessly into the team.

It’s a good time of year to join the farm; the routine is quite relaxed and the light mornings and nights make getting to know the farm much easier than in winter.