Farmer Focus: Transition issues follow heavy winter feeding

This year continues to baffle. The weather forecasters are being made a fool of by mother nature with plenty of non-forecast showers.

The arable farmers around us are starting to get a little anxious. We cannot complain as our fourth cuts are bulking up nicely and we have also been able to get our wheat stubbles worked and back into grass.

I am hoping to see a good yield improvement by building wheat into the rotation and not just going grass to grass. We shall see.

You will be pleased to know that the maize ground that we re-sowed with fast grass has come nicely and should give us a cut in September at some point.

We were concerned last week as to where we might put all of our forage – a relief compared with this time last year.

See also: 4 must-dos for transition cow management

We have had a bit of a funny run with the cows of late.

A result of feeding heavily in the winter has meant that we have had a few fat cows calving in, and with that we have had the usual host of issues including milk fevers, retained cleansings and unfortunately a couple of displaced abomasums.  

We are being a bit more proactive in the dry cow period and have seen an improvement, so that is good. We have also seen repercussions from stopping feeding in the parlour.

It would appear taking away the parlour cake has contributed in part to two very random mid-lactation cows with milk fever.

I hadn’t accounted for the levels of calcium that this would then take out of the diet. We have now reviewed our mineral specification in the blend and hopefully that should be the end of it.

We have been doing a lot of work now on the diet to really optimise forage-inclusion rate and make the most of the three forages we now have available to us.

We have also included brewers’ grains, with the price now at a more justifiable level. The herd is continuing to freshen up so we hope that this will start to result in a steady rise in output.

Read more about Shropshire farmer Henry Wilson