Look at forage stocks for the coming winter

Published 10 May 13

Ian Browne, from the Farm Consultancy Group says; "This season is starting to get back on track now with the better weather. Growths are increasing rapidly as the temperatures rise and sunshine hours improve.

I have even heard of some farmers cutting some silage from Westerwold grasses and IRG to go into maize! What is clear however, is that the problems are not today's but what will happen for the winter. Do people really know what they will require for a normal winter, let alone another difficult one?

How will you achieve the targeted quantity and quality of conserved forage? This is a very real question as the first cut crops are looking very light in most cases and where intensive grazing is carried out no surpluses have been identified to shut up, as yet. This is about three weeks behind normal and the seasonal growth peaks are rapidly approaching.

What is already obvious is that some compromises will have to be made relating to cutting dates and size of crop harvested. This will effectively reduce the potential total grass silage tonnage for the season so you will need to make plans to "plug the gap" with other forages or forage replacers.

This scenario is particularly true of farms that are carrying high stocking rates of over a cow equivalent per acre (2.45/ha). Planning is essential to avoid the same pitfalls being experienced again next winter, where shortages placed whole farms under stress, along with the people!"