AREAS where soils are light are experiencing the first signs of drought as rainfall declines.
Worst affected is Anglesey where grass growth is barely registering on the plate meter for Richard Davies. "For the last two weeks it has been difficult to detect any grass growth. It was rather annoying that I drove through a flash flood about 30 miles away from the farm when we didnt have a drop of rain."
But a recent steady shower has improved the situation and Mr Davies is managing to hold off silage feeding because cows are on target to meet quota.
Slack stocking at Richard Johns Pembrokeshire unit means that although recent dry weather has slowed daily growth to 38kg DM/ha, cows are coping well and averaging 19 litres a day from grass. "There is nowhere near enough grass for autumn so we will be applying fertiliser and could do with a couple of showers."
Growth is also slow at Christian Foxs farm in Sussex – averaging 29kg DM/ha, but he is avoiding the temptation to speed the rotation. "Cows have eaten most of the grass I stored but if I graze faster the whole farm will be grazed and grass wont grow back."
Introducing some vintage 1998 or 1999 silage is Mr Foxs plan when grazing becomes too tight as he hasnt made any this year.
It is a different story, however, for Stephen Brandon based in Staffs where growth rates are averaging 88kg DM/day. "We keep getting a nice drop of rain and grass growth has been exceptional this year. When the weather settles, we may have to make more silage." *
Daily growth rates
Anglesey 12kg DM/ha
Dorset 44kg DM/ha
Pembrokes 38kg DM/ha
Staffs 88kg DM/ha
Sussex 29kg DM/ha
Shropshire 36kg DM/ha