Farmer Focus: Hoping weather helps us catch up with forage

Grass growth has exploded here in the past few days after a thoroughly miserable six weeks of dry and cold weather that prevented any significant growth, resulting in our grass covers going down to an uncomfortable farm average of 1,800kg dry matter/ha. 

We had to respond by giving a bit of supplementary silage in the paddocks and maintaining a high concentrate level in the parlour.

Thankfully, owing to significant growth, we can now start to reduce our concentrate usage. Cows are achieving good grass intakes with minimal effort. 

See also: How to save £150 a head by outwintering dairy heifers

The knock-on effects of the poor April have resulted in a lower level of pre-mating bulling activity, with a greater proportion of cows being served on their first cycle.

This will undoubtedly have some impact on conception rates. However, it is not in significant enough numbers to be a concern, and, with the first three weeks of serving coming to an end this week, our submission rate may still creep into the 90% region and, if not, will not be far away. 

While bulling activity may have been slowed by the cold weather and lower than normal grass covers, cow condition and milk performance have been really good.

Having recently taken on some youngstock grazing and completed our post-wintering cultivations there has been a lot of grass seed waiting for a stimulus to start growing. 

With this land out of action and other support ground growing at levels well below expected, keeping our bulling heifers in good-quality grazing has meant we have little silage ground closed up.

The plan is to increase stocking pressure on a smaller area with the heifers, allowing for ground to be closed up. Hopefully the weather plays ball and, by the end of the season, will have allowed us to play catch-up. 

The barn conversion work is nearing completion, with furniture beginning to arrive and the outside starting to take shape.

It will be good to get the barns in action and start welcoming guests. The biggest challenge has been the expenditure on things we would like at home but have never been able to justify.

I wouldn’t be shocked to come home one evening to see the family has moved up there!

Johnjo Roberts farms on Anglesey. Read more here