Farmer Focus: Rain forces us to house the cows

August has brought about such a change. We have gone from being short of forage to having a surplus after taking a fourth cut in the final days of August. 

The fourth cut ended up being nearly 40ha more than we would normally cut due to the extreme growth, with high soil temperatures and some form of rain most days during the previous two weeks.

With the regular rain we have taken the decision to house the milking herd because the animals were starting to make a big mess, especially around gateways.

And now we have the fourth cut, we are comfortable with our forage stocks for winter. Having the milkers all housed should look after condition on the cows a bit more and we will look to drive fat and protein without the variability of wet grass causing a reduction in the solids.

See also: Cross-bred cows v Holstein: How they compare

Following on from last month’s issues with a different milk powder, the original powder has continued to perform well and the calves are weaning nicely at 70 days, having averaged a daily liveweight gain of 0.97kg, with us aiming for a minimum of 0.85kg/day.

We are pushing well past that to have the heifers at bulling weight from 13 months, as we continue to pull our calving age down to average 24 months.

We have gathered the fell and weaned the lambs a couple of weeks later than we would have liked, but we wanted to ensure plenty of grass for them to come in to.

The ewes have lost a little more condition than we hoped, achieving a body condition score of about 2, but hopefully now with a copper bolus, mineral drench and the lambs weaned off, the ewes will recover nicely for tupping in November.  

The lambs look well and have been put onto some old permanent pasture with plenty of grass to get them used to the higher-quality feed compared with the fell.

If we don’t do this, it causes the lambs to stall for too long when they go straight onto silage aftermath or reseed without rougher pasture to help their rumens adapt. 


Patrick Morris-Eyton is a new Farmer Focus writer. Read his biography.