Farmer Focus: Grass growth leads to cow-buying trip

It’s been a foraging month – we started on 4 May with the autumn herd.

Unfortunately, the BBC and Met Office apps both failed us and half of it got a soaking for two days, but we’ve had good weather ever since.

A great crop was produced (double the quantities of last year), the pits are full and we have finished 14 days earlier than usual.

The new forage wagon struggled to get started this year, but it’s now going like a dream two weeks in.

This will be our fifth season with the wagon. It has reduced maintenance, diesel use and staff costs, and I don’t need to get involved.

Due to the large quantities ensiled, we are cutting artificial fertiliser down to 40kg nitrogen with 26kg potassium and 10kg sulphur/ha for second-cut and zero on the digestate-applied land.

The contractor applies slurry and digestate about three days after silaging, using a dribble bar, which requires less horsepower. We have seen significant improvements in grass growth – especially during dry weather.

See also: How to improve crude protein levels in silage

The dry conditions have allowed us to repair damage caused last autumn. We use both our home-made roller aerator and a shakaerator for more damaged areas.

Growth across all three grazing platforms has been good, leading to paddocks being taken for our forage again towards the end of first-cut. The growth this week has not been extreme, although the spring curve this year cranked up two to three weeks earlier than last year.

Good grass growth has prompted us to purchase a small herd of spring-calving cows from Aberdeen. The Friesian cows were cross-bred and should fit in really well with our own.  

The owner is concentrating on his cheese and café business. I have never seen one cheesemaker producing such a range of cheeses, so today’s sale will allow him some well-deserved time off.

He even made cheesecake, combining his product with Orkney fudge to create a very tasty result. We also received a cup of tea – on the last two purchasing trips to England, tea was not included in the marketing budget – and they say Aberdonians are tight. 

Read more about Ayrshire dairy farmer Wallace Hendrie