A RECENT return to wintery conditions is testing the resolve of those producers with cows outside. However, despite the colder spell, growth rates havent dived too much, which is good news for those preparing to flush cows.
Richard Davies, a producer from Anglesey, is dismayed by the recent poor weather. "Cold, wet days test extended grazing systems to the limit. I dont like seeing cows shivering."
But careful grazing control so far this season means plenty of grass for his cows as they approach service. Cows are receiving no concentrates and are giving 24-25 litres a day.
"Cows are allocated 16kg DM/day and arent given any more when they start bawling. We have now finished the first grazing round and will allow them 18kg DM/day a day for flushing," says Mr Davies.
Preparing cows for service is also on the mind of Sussex-based producer Christian Fox.
"Cows are still receiving 2kg/day of 18% protein concentrate but this will be cut out within the next couple of weeks when grass growth picks up. I want to get cows settled on grass in time for service, which begins on May 10," he says.
In common with other producers, Mr Fox is also waiting for an improvement in weather which will enable him to turn youngstock out.
But monitoring grass growth closely is crucial in deciding how long cows should graze for, according to David Patterson, grassland technologist at Greenmount College, Northern Ireland.
"Keep a close eye on grass growth, and when you see a surge in the next week to 10 days, think about grazing cows day and night. Where grass growth remains at less than 40-50kg DM/ha/day, however, restrict grazing to day time so cover doesnt become too low." *
Daily growth rates
Anglesey 43kg DM/ha
Pembrokes 30kg DM/ha
Staffs 38kg DM/ha
Sussex 27kg DM/ha
N Ireland 30kg DM/ha
Dorset 14kg DM/ha