The farm has transformed over the last few weeks after the rain in early September and we are now in a very comfortable position with grass heading into the autumn.

Farm cover is over 1,000kg DM/ha and should rise further as growth looks set to stay well ahead of demand for the rest of September. We have dropped meal feeding to 3kg and it now looks like we should be able to keep everything ticking over at that level for the next month.

We blanket spread the last round of fertiliser on 13 and 14 September, with approximately 20 units of nitrogen going out per acre.

We used up the last of the protected urea, some compound and some straight urea to finish off the round, hence the slight variation in rate from 19 to 23 units of nitrogen. This should help keep the growth rates up well into October.

The last grazing rotation for the year starts in about 10 days time, so we will get a bit more active this week on culling out some of the empty cows and some other cows that are earmarked for culling this year.

We have plenty of feed on hand for the winter, but cubicle space could come under pressure if we carried all of the cull cows into the winter along with all of the in-calf heifers.

We have been milking these cows once-a-day for the last few weeks, to try to speed up the dry-off process. Once fully dry, they will go into the shed for heavy feeding to get them out of the yard before Christmas.

Any cows that look like they will take too much time to come to hand will be sold through the mart instead. The price for these animals is holding up very well in both the mart and the factory, which is just as well, considering the price of meal for feeding them.

We can say the same about milk price. Meal prices are high, but with butterfat moving over 5% this month and protein over 4%, it will pay very well to keep cows milking as long as possible into the autumn.

We will keep meal up at 3kg to try to keep milk flowing as well as possible. Most of the cows are in great condition after heavy feeding all summer, so we will try to get every last drop out of the herd before Christmas.


It was great to get out to meet everyone at the Ploughing again this year after a three-year break. The traffic on the way in is a bit alien to those of us living in rural Ireland, who never encounter gridlock on our daily commute to work.

The closest we might come to it would be following in a herd of heavy in-calf cows in December on a long walk, but they at least keep moving.The crowds were huge, the weather was great and most people were in great form.

We are at that tricky stage in our house, where the kids demand to go, but aren’t old enough to look after themselves, so the day tends to be busy enough trying to keep an eye on them, visiting different stands than usual and keeping most of the chats as brief as possible.

They rounded up plenty of free pens, keyrings, bags, hats, hi-vis gear, posters and even colouring books. It was easy enough when they had a porter on hand to carry it all around for them.

The question at the end of the day was “how can all of the businesses afford to put up all of the stands and give out all of the free stuff?”

Costs have risen significantly in agriculture this year, but there’s obviously still a healthy margin to be found along the supply chain, both in and out of the farm gate. Keeping enough of it inside the gate is the important bit.