Farm Management Tips for May

Farm Management Tips for May


By Daniel Hession – Nutritionist & Technical Manager


  1. Grassland management

Continue to walk the farm weekly, preferably twice weekly during periods of very high grass growth. Maintain pre-grazing covers of 1,400 kg DM/ha to maximise milk solids production and liveweight gain. Match demand with grass growth and maintain a rotation length of 18-21 days. Average farm cover should be at 160-180kg/DM/cow. If paddocks are gone too strong, skip them and cut for high quality silage bales. Graze paddocks to 3.5 - 4.0 cm to maintain grass quality in subsequent rotations.

May is the month to use nitrogen as growth rates and responses are best – 1kg N will grow 30 kg DM of grass on average. Use protected urea. Spread Nitrogen appropriate for your stocking rate and allowances.

Silage – don’t delay cutting date to bulk up 1st cut. This will have a negative effect on quality and will reduce the total yield for the year.

2. Dairy

Check submission rate - the target is for over 90 per cent of cows to be submitted for AI during the first 3 weeks of the breeding season. Check progress now and identify cows that are over 35 days calved and have not been submitted. Scan these cows and treat accordingly. Heat detection aids are essential, keep tail paint topped up as it becomes harder to pick up cows in heat later in the breeding season. 

Switch to 24-to-36-hour grazing areas for cows, benefits include less work setting up and moving fencing reels every milking, higher cow intake, better grass utilisation and increased cow performance.

Use the Dairy Beef Index (DBI) to breed better beef calves for next spring with low calving difficulty. Do not breed dairy genetics to your lowest performing cows, instead use a high-DBI beef AI straw. Milk record to identify low performers and persistently high-SCC cows. Consider culling cows with persistently high-SCC. Treat lame cows promptly so that it does not cause reduced fertility, increased SCC levels and loss of milk.

3. Beef

Prioritise good quality grass for cows during the breeding season. During the breeding season, cows should be on a rising plane of nutrition at mating. Give preferential treatment to thin cows, first time calvers and late calvers. Mineral supplementation is also important and should be kept in mind. Selenium, copper and iodine are important, and deficiencies are common.

Ensure the stock bull has a pre-breeding check before the start of breeding. Watch for repeats from 18 to 21 days after cows are served. If there are a lot of cows repeating, there may be an issue with the bull’s fertility. Young stock bulls in their first breeding season need careful management, too many cows can cause fertility problems. As rule of thumb, give the bull one cow per month of age. Replacement heifers should weigh 60% of mature cow weight when served.

Dairy beef calves should get a worm dose three weeks after turnout and again at appropriate intervals during the grazing season – use faecal egg counts to determine the need for dosing.

4. Sheep

Maintain high stocking rates by grouping up ewes and lambs to graze out paddocks to 4 cm without restricting lamb growth rates. This will ensure quality grass for the summer. Maintain short, leafy swards (5-7 cm pre-grazing) with high-intake characteristics. Control scald in lambs which may affect growth rates. The risk of ewes going on their backs increases in good weather. The risk is highest with well fleshed ewes and those that are scratching - consider leaving a scratcher in the field. For repeat offenders, shearing is the only option. Lambs born in early March have probably been dosed for Nematodirus at this stage, for later born lambs, treat with a white drench at 5 to 6 weeks of age.

5. Farm Safety

The month of May is a high-risk month as the silage cutting season kicks off. The safety of yourself, your family, those working for you and other road users must be your highest priority to avoid serious injuries during this busy time.  Put a safety plan in place before silage starts.


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