With days beginning to lengthen the end of the winter feeding period is approaching. This makes it an ideal time to check whether current feed supplies will be adequate. The following table simply shows the number of days/weeks from now to the end of winter for 3 different dates of turnout.
Length Of Winter From 15th January?
Expected date of turnout: Early on 15th March
Expected date of turnout: Average on 15th April
Expected date of turnout: Late on 15th May
For example if you are currently using 3 t of silage, 6 bales of straw and 200 kg of barley per day then to get through to mid April you would need to have a minimum of 270 t of silage in the pit, 540 bales of straw and 18 t of barley currently on farm. On most farms it might be sensible to work out requirements on an enterprise basis eg for spring calvers, store cattle and ewes separately.
What if it is a late spring? You will have a good idea how late spring can be for your farm. Use the same approach to calculate how much extra you would need if it is a late spring this year.
If these calculations suggest you are going to be short of feed, consider your options now. For example selling store cattle/lambs at an earlier sale can significantly reduce requirements. If you have just enough supplies to see you through a normal winter again consider now how you would cope with a late spring. While it is impossible to predict whether it will be an early or late spring, the one thing which is certain is if it is late, feed prices will be horrific.
Basil Lowman, SAC Consulting Beef Specialist
Sign up to the FAS newsletter
Receive updates on news, events and publications from Scotland’s Farm Advisory Service