Weather forecasters are tentatively predicting this summer will start off drier and end up wetter than normal. Long range weather forecasts are notoriously difficult. Nevertheless it is worthwhile spending a couple of minutes thinking of what it would mean to your business, if it turns out to be accurate.
A Dry Spring
- Grass growth will be restricted due to a lack of water. (This is unlikely to be severe with the high current water table.)
- Weather for first cut should be good allowing crops to be cut young and rapidly wilted to maximise silage feed value next winter.
- In dry conditions do not graze/cut grass too short. The shorter the stubble the more rapidly exposed soil will dry out.
- Try and preserve as much soil moisture as possible for planting forage crops such as kale, turnips, etc. Drilling direct into a sprayed off turf should be beneficial.
A Wet Autumn
- Will cattle have to be housed earlier? This would have a big impact on the cost of straw bedding.
- Perverse as it might seem, cell grazing over the winter would do considerable less poaching/soil erosion damage compared with allowing sheep to graze the whole farm and supplementing them with big bale silage.
- Housing cattle earlier means calves will be younger. Coupled with the high relative humidity due to the wet weather there will be a greater risk of pneumonia making vaccination pre housing more cost effective.
- Consider reducing winter stocking rates ie sell weaned calves in the autumn rather than next spring?
- Harvest will be more difficult, consider making wholecrop, urea treated grain, crimping, etc.
- Consider baling rape straw for bedding.
- Consider finishing lambs ASAP.
Basil Lowman, firstname.lastname@example.org
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