Farmer Focus: Looking at silage surplus after feeding in May

The dry spring is no more than a distant memory now, with frequent rain showers and at times miserable winter-like days giving rise to exceptional grass growth. 

Any winter feed deficit we were concerned about has been filled. A silage surplus is likely by the end of the season. 

We have made more silage on the milking platform this year than any in the past. Considering we were feeding silage in May, this is remarkable. 

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

An abundance of grass on the platform is a nice problem to have, although it does come with its own management challenges, with us constantly having to balance which fields to skip grazing and defer for silage.

The question is how long to leave them before cutting, to ensure they are growing back for grazing. You don’t want to return too soon, or this will result in more fields being cut further down the line.

Cows are in good form, giving about 1.8kg milk solids a day, and are maintaining good body condition. 

They have been very good on their feet all spring and summer, but the odd one is now coming in slightly sore on a foot.

We are lifting feet straight away. This is likely to be down to the wet tracks over the past few weeks, which will now give rise to a once- or twice-weekly walk through the footbath to try to reduce any issues that may arise.

The initial scanning results have settled any nervousness we had from using the sexed semen, and we will have a clearer picture again when we scan the cows at home next week. 

All the signs, from pre-mating to present, have been good, so we hope to improve, or at least maintain, our good six-week in-calf rate. 

This will shift the mindset towards the end of the season and looking towards autumn grass covers, wintering blocks, calving areas and calf rearing set ups. 

Having been a just-in-time kind of person in the past, I am now reassured by getting this part of the process set up well ahead of schedule – or at least I try.


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