With the risk of sounding like a complete smart arse, I can safely say that taking first cut a fortnight has been a good decision. While some people would say there is a large element of luck involved I prefer to think it as a complex decision based on the calculation of multiple converging criteria of varying quantities. Or yes, luck.
Which ever way you choose to look at it, things have gone pretty well since first cut. The job was done, sheeted and completed in 24 hours and the rain came straight after. It wasn’t a torrential downpour but measly trickle to start with. The forecast wasn’t predicting much but it just kept on falling.
The first showers brought 6mm of rain which was enough to revive the ailing pastures. Then a few days later as we applied cow slurry and fertiliser to the silage ground, more steady showers arrived. The rain carried on and off for the best part of a week and completely invigorated the pastures across the farm.
The 37 mm of rain that has recently fallen will keep the farm going for around a fortnight or so before more is needed.. The milking cows need around 30 tonne of fresh grass a day to satisfy their appetite – and then we need to grow winter forage too. Without rain the whole operation is stuffed.
This remarkable transformation shows just how critical summer rain is to our grassland operation. The two photos below provide a stark example of what happens with or without rain.
A grazing paddock on May 7th
And the same paddock on May 17th