May is a busy month on most dairy farms, with the breeding season in full swing and many farmers planning to harvest their first cut of silage.
Aside from these big tasks, there are also plenty of other jobs that can, and need to be done in May.
May is when farmers usually begin to see a boost in grass growth and often a surplus of grass begins to appear.
To ensure that you achieve the maximum benefit from the grass on your farm, paddocks needs to be grazed when grass covers are ideally 1,400kg of dry matter (DM)/ha.
Light covers will result in moving through too much area in a short period of time, while grazing covers that are too heavy will result in a poor clean out and reduced production from cows.
Paddocks that have gone too strong should be quickly mowed and baled to allow them to quickly re-enter the rotation.
May also signals the beginning of the silage season and the harvesting of first-cut silage on many farms.
Ahead of harvesting, it is important that all maintenance work is completed, i.e. servicing the mower or cleaning out the silage pit.
You should also check that effluent channels are clear, so they can make their way to tanks.
As grass growth and quality improve, farmers can begin reducing the protein percentage in the concentrates being fed to cows.
When changing the concentrates or reducing the amount being fed, it is also a good idea to recalibrate your feeders in the parlour.
A feeder that is even slightly wrong could result too much or too few concentrates being fed to cows.
Controlling costs on farms this year in particular is important, so ensuring cows aren’t being overfed concentrates could result in a saving.
Clover walks organised earlier this year focused on increasing clover content on farms.
To oversow clover, a paddock needs to be clean, which means having a very low weed burden.
The advice from the walks earlier this year was to get paddocks suitable for clover by getting weeds under control.
If conditions in May are suitable, you can spray docks and weeds – once they are at the right stage for control.
If you are spraying silage ground for docks, generally allow an interval of at least 21 days between spraying and harvesting. As the interval depends on the product used, always read the label.