Farmer Focus: Measuring grass carefully in tricky spring

There’s a stop-start feel to spring 2021, with a persistent north wind and cold nights stopping any significant explosion in grass growth.

And now there is an increasing need for a drop of rain to freshen things up and stimulate growth.

Cows are very content on the high-dry-matter grass available and are being supplemented with 5kg of feed in the parlour. 

See also: Advice for supplementary feeding dairy calves at grass

Our average farm cover (AFC) will determine if we need to put some silage in or if we are able to keep going as we are. Weekly grass measuring of each field’s cover will determine this.

We will be able to see what our average grass growth has been for the week and whether the AFC has declined or increased since the previous week.

Should we need to feed silage, we are fortunate that there is plenty in store.

However, the decision is a precarious one. Being overly cautious now and feeding silage needlessly or for too long can mean grass getting out of control for a few weeks and we will have to make bales.

We have administered the bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) and leptospirosis vaccines along with a fly spray ahead of serving next month. The cattle are motoring along and comfortably ahead of target weight. 

This year’s heifer calves are looking a picture. The strongest are now clearing more than 2kg of feed and weights taken from a sample group showed an average daily liveweight gain of 1.05kg/day.

We have now sold a good number of our beef-sired calves, with the last of the British Blues leaving the farm this week. They have proved a good addition to the breeding plan and have the approval of the store cattle grazers that have seen them. 

It is intriguing, but not entirely surprising, that carbon sequestration and carbon trading are trending in agriculture. I first stumbled on this in 2007 when working as a placement student.

In a fury of naive excitement, I hurriedly wrote a press release on carbon trading’s potential.

Needless to say, my phone did not, as I had hoped, resemble that of a Wall Street trader the next day. It may well be the new “entitlement” going forwards.

Johnjo Roberts farms on Anglesey. Read more here