Farmer Focus: Grass quality plummets in dry weather

The weather of the past few weeks is starting to take its toll on our water supply and grazing availability for both cows and sheep.

Grass quality has plummeted, causing milk to drop back a couple of litres.

Worryingly, we now have to graze third-cut silage ground because of a lack of grass growth in the absence of rain.

We took our second cut of silage on Thursday 14 June. We had a few showers of rain following the cutting and the regrowth got off to a great start, but now it is not growing at all and on the lighter fields, it’s burning out fast.  

See also: Advice for weaning lambs to help reduce stress

Water flow has been a big issue this past week with the supply not able to keep up with the cows.

Therefore, we tapped into our hydroelectric water pipe, which has enabled us to have good pressure and a decent flow rate to keep troughs full in the heat.

We weaned our main batch of in-bye lambs on 23 June. We weaned them earlier at an average age of just 83 days, but again, it was grass quality and availability that dictated the decision.

The lambs have been on silage aftermaths and have been growing well. They are now onto 5.6ha of new seeds that have stood up to the dry weather better than expected. They are probably coping well because they were drilled on the heavier land.

After we finish the seeds, grazing for the lambs is looking sparse.

All of the hill sheep except a few stragglers from the fell are now shorn. This is about a fortnight earlier than normal for our fell sheep.

However, we needed the lambs back in for weighing for the AHDB Beef and Lamb Challenge Sheep project. We decided it was a good opportunity to get the wool off them with this weather forecast to continue.

The fell lambs had their first worm and mineral drench while they were in, so hopefully they will continue to grow well.