Farmers talk about coping in cold conditions

Published 28 March 13

"We're now having to extend that first rotation even further", says John Owen who farms in Carmarthen. "I know we're much better off than some as we don't actually have any snow on the ground but the grass growth simply isn't there.

"The cows are out during the day and in at night and we're supplementing with silage but we'll run out of silage this week and I've just had to buy in some hay. If I had any hair I'd be tearing it out by now!"

Alistair Cliff farms in Cheshire, "We got a huge amount of snow on Friday night and Saturday morning. It took two and a half hours to dig the lane out after milking on Saturday morning.

"We had snatched some days of grazing before the snow, when grass growth allowed, but we're back inside completely now. If you'd asked me three weeks ago I would have said we were fine with our silage stocks but now things are pretty tight. I've just had to order some forage saver blend."

"All the snow has gone here now, but it's still terribly cold," says David Utting, who farms in Suffolk. "We've had no real grass growth at all this spring. All we have in the fields is what was left when we came out last autumn.

"We are lucky as we have plenty of silage and straw and we're not in any hurry to get the cows out, I don't want to jeopardise future grazing."

"You need a plan B," says Powys dairy farmer David Lee."Last spring's weather was the exception and it's normal to have snow in March here - maybe this is taking things a bit to an extreme - and you need to plan for such.

"We're under six inches of snow at the moment and the cows are back inside. I'm feeding silage I bought from my next door neighbour!

"You need to have a flexible approach with grazing. The cows were out in February and they'll be out again as soon as I can see some grass. You need to take the opportunities where you can."