Farmer Focus: Looking at grass quality to cut barren rates

The second week of September brought an end to our silage season, with third-cut baled and shifted quickly back to the farm.

It could be used as milking silage in the spring, should we have a deficit, or later next summer if dry weather slows growth down.

It has been a fantastic year for grass growth and we have a surplus of both winter dry cow and youngstock feed, as well as ample top-quality milking forage.

See also: How to set your grazing up for next spring

The cows are in great condition and are gaining condition all the time, leading nicely into our last two months of the lactation and winter period.

The herds on both farms have been scanned, along with all the heifers, and the results have been fantastic – a testament to both teams’ hard work and attention to detail.

The scanning results have shown empty rates of 3.5% and 6.5% in 12 weeks of mating, and heifers were a shade under 3% empty.

We are delighted with the results, which sets everything up nicely for next season. Now we will look at body condition, grass quality and autumn covers to try to improve these figures, using enough top-quality spring grass.

It is likely the majority of our last application of fertiliser will go on this week to give a final boost to growth going into the last round in October, as we will be slowing down to a 45-day round next month and slower again in November.  

In order to achieve this without the use of supplement silage, we will need to maximise the remaining grass growth to build up the grass on the holding leading into and during that time.

Away from cows and grass, we have been amazed by the popularity of a static caravan we listed on Airbnb back in July, which has hardly been empty since and is now booked through to the end of October.

This has given us the confidence to progress the conversion of an old stone barn into self-catered holiday accommodation.

If we can get somewhere close to matching the build estimates and income forecasts, it looks worth doing. But this is possibly easier said than done.

Johnjo Roberts is a Farmer Focus writer on Anglesey. Read his biography.