Colder than normal weather is having a serious impact on grass growth, and many farmers are finding themselves tight for grass. It’s utterly demoralising to be having to feed extra meal or silage at a time of the year that grass growth should be flying it.

Soil moisture deficits are between 30mm and 40mm which is normal, so I don’t think it’s a lack of moisture that’s causing the reduction in growth, moreso a lack of kind weather.

Grass is scarce, and what grass is available is stressed and stemmy looking.

With widespread rain forecast for the next few days, moisture shouldn’t be a problem, but lower than normal temperatures are still predicted, so expect growth rates to remain depressed. Weather conditions were similar this time last year and as soon as temperatures increased, the situation changed quickly.

The key thing is to hold a rotation length at 21 to 23 days, and if extra feed is necessary to do this then so be it.

Where grass is less than 150kg/cow, put in supplement to hold this round length.

How much to put in depends on growth rates and herd demand. Those that cut silage will have aftergrass coming back in soon, which will reduce the demand.

Because grass growth rates are in the mid-fifties, it makes sense to put in supplement to maintain the average farm cover rather than letting it get too low, which would then require a lot of supplement.

Milk yield

Everyone I speak to is frustrated about low milk yields. Cows just aren’t milking well this season due to a combination of factors, but mostly a tough spring where not enough grass could be fed due to the weather. Grass quality since then has been poor and it continues to be poor.

Having pristine fields of nice leafy grass is just not possible. Given the reduction in grass growth rates, topping or pre-mowing is likely to reduce growth rates further so is questionable, unless growth rates remain OK.

Topping as soon as the cows come out of the paddock is preferable to pre-mowing, as at least cows can select the nice grass and leave the worst of the stem behind.

With pre-mowing, they don’t have the same level of selection, but overall intakes tend to increase, which may compensate for that. If mowing or topping, make sure the machine is set low enough to actually improve residuals. Cutting too high is a waste of time, as quality will still be poor the next time.


There are lots of risks with bulls, from the danger element to the risk of poor performance at the job. Any sign of lameness or hurt in a bull should be looked at immediately, because if the bull is in pain he is unlikely to be doing his job correctly, or at all.

Having just one bull in with a herd is a big risk to take, because if something happens to that bull or if he stops performing for whatever reason, the consequences can be great. Rotating a bull is a good idea, as it gives him a break.

One day on, one day off is a good policy. Leaving bulls in the field at milking time is another good policy, as it reduces the amount of walking and standing on concrete that they have to do.