Farmer Focus: Mind whirring with five days of silage left

I’ve got the mower on and greased up ready for tomorrow, 16 April.

Although, as I write this looking out of the window, I could do with a few more 40mph winds to dry up this evening’s shower. 

I have about 14.5ha (36 acres) of Westerwolds to cut – grown between maize crops – although more than 3ha (8 acres) of those are too wet.

See also: How a slurry digester is helping cut energy costs by 85%

About the author

Tom Hildreth
Livestock Farmer Focus writer Tom Hildreth and family grow grass and maize for the 130-cow herd of genomically tested 11,000-litre Holsteins near York supplying Arla. The Hildreths run a café, ice cream business and milk vending machine on the farm.
Read more articles by Tom Hildreth

There are two drivers pushing me to cut now. The first one is that last year, the maize went in a little late due to the wet April, so I don’t want a repeat of that.

The other factor is that our slurry store is full again, so we need somewhere to put the slurry.

We normally turn the cows out to graze about 19 April, but there are no signs of the land drying up soon, and we only have five days of silage left.

I will have to feed freshly made grass silage. It is making me consider whether I should investigate a zero-grazer trailer or a front mower and forage box.

It also makes me question having sold half of the fourth cut when I had a full clamp. I should have baled it – lesson learned. 

I decided on Saturday that I could wait no longer to apply fertiliser.

We were already a month late, and the majority of the grass fields were too wet for slurry earlier on, so they were looking a bit yellow and hungry for nitrogen.

I had accepted that I could deal with a wheeling every 24m, but the land generally carried me well and we didn’t make too much mess.

Our tractor is on 650mm tyres and only weighs about 6.5 tonnes.

Putting only two 600kg bags in the spreader rather than three avoided the need for weight on the front, so the machine sailed over the top relatively nicely, given the circumstances.

I’m looking forward to what the rest of April brings now. I know we’re going to have a busy one, as I, like the rest of the country, have been trying to get March’s workload done in April.

Along with many others, we have been making use of the current grant funding available, as we have a few building projects in the pipeline.