I’m digging holes and I’m measuring grass growth (or rather the lack of it) and, in the process, I’m measuring how cold it is by the numb feeling in my fingers as I walk the fields. I had a good stomp round most of our grass ground nearly two weeks ago with my trusty plate meter, in preparation for an early start to the 2013 grazing season, confident that the worst of the winter was past. Having pointed my nose firmly into the strong easterly wind this afternoon, again armed with plate meter and notepad, I returned to thaw out and ‘upload’ my latest data – only to find that I have barely registered any growth in our pasture at all.
It is true that the wind is drying up the ground and I could really do to introduce the cows to a bit of grass to help stretch our rapidly diminishing silage stocks. But, I don’t like turning cows out in cold weather. I seem to remember March always bringing a taste of spring – bright yellow Daffodils dancing in the sunshine and newborn lambs soaking up the sun’s warm rays. Perhaps the continuing winter chill is what we need to ensure that summer comes at the right time this year and lasts for more than a couple of weeks.
Right now I think the grass looks less green than it did a couple of weeks ago. The average farm cover here is at 2,217kg dry matter per hectare today, with some fields at 3,000 and some still as low as 1,700kg. It would be great to get the cows out for a few hours a day as soon as possible as some of the higher covers need eating off. Experience has taught me that it is far better to be on top of the grass from the outset than to be wading through knee-high swards. Every year is different but we need to ready to go at the earliest opportunity. I never understand those farmers who say “we never turn the cows out before the 1st of May”. Here’s hoping we lose the east wind at the end of the week and don’t forget if you decide to turn your cows out please grab the camera and make a short video for us.