Cattle thriving after a stress-free turnout
In spite of the recent return to wintery conditions I cannot remember a more perfect spring for letting out cattle. The transition from indoors to outdoors was practically seamless with the weather causing little or no stress on cattle.
A good start is hugely important for my low-cost grass finishing system. In spite of all the favourable weather I did however manage to mess up a bit on my spring grass management.
Last October I stopped off a number of paddocks, intending to use them for lame animals who needed to be taken out of the shed. However, rather than using these paddocks I just fed the cattle silage in a confined area, reserving the fresh paddocks for spring grazing.
My mistake was that I didn't graze these fields early enough so they actually got a bit too strong. This would have been ok if the spring had turned out harsh but with all the fine weather it has probably held them back somewhat as I tried to get them to clean off these fields.
It's difficult to get it right every time but who knows, the recent sub zero night conditions may prove me right yet. However, on a positive note, growing conditions are bound to improve as we move towards the middle of May.
As usual I haven't grazed any of my first-cut silage ground. Some of it got slurry last October while the remaining fields got slurry in February. It then got nitrogen around March 26, so all going well it should be ready for cutting in the latter half of May - weather permitting.
The silage fields have covered in well so far and appear not to have been affected by the prolonged dry spell in April or the recent cold conditions.
Another unusual thing I found this year was the very high number of lost tags, about 10pc in all. Apparently a batch of faulty tags in 2013 is to blame.