It’s still struggling to rain in Clara this week, with very little meaningful accumulations yet and not much on the forecast either. We will have to open a silage pit at the weekend if it doesn’t happen soon.
The feed is there in the pit so it’s not the end of the world. Growth has virtually stalled on the whole farm now on grazed paddocks, although some paddocks are still green, so a small bit of moisture could turn things around quickly enough.
The high temperatures have disappeared for the moment at least, which is taking some pressure off cows and people trying to work out in the sun.
It was great weather to get hay finished off for the year and we also managed to get our winter barley straw into the shed in perfect conditions so it wasn’t all bad and the kids had a great time with a few trips to the beach to keep them cooled off.
The cows were making use of every bit of shade available on the farm on the hottest days, which creates its own problems.
We had a few cases of mastitis which probably stemmed from cows crowding into and lying down in the shade under trees. Most are OK after treatment, but again it’s just more stress on cows already under pressure from the extreme temperatures.
We have increased meal feeding to 5kg to keep grass in front of cows and to attempt to hold yield somewhat into the second half of the year. Grass quality – where there is grass – is only average, with any reasonable covers full of stressed stem.
When we start feeding silage next week, we will have to increase protein in the feed slightly to keep cows milking well. We learned from 2018 that protein is the main limiting factor in very dry conditions.
We will have to move from a 14% nut to at least 16% to keep cows milking well.
We are taking a few days off farm up the country this week with the family. Typically, it’s raining up here and still dry at home.
The country gradually turned greener as we made our way north and west.
Silage was just cut in some areas showing the differences with back home where most people are feeding rather than cutting this week.
We obviously enjoy the sunny southeast and the dry weather more in the shoulders of the year, where we can get out early and late on lighter free-draining soils.
The dry summers are just the other side of that coin that we have to put up with.
Farmers in higher rainfall areas are getting a great chance this year to enjoy a warm summer with still enough moisture around to keep grass growing. It’s an incredible difference in such a small country.
We got a clean bill of health with our TB test at home this week, which puts us in a good position to sell some stock towards the end of the year. We will scan the herd next week and see where we go from there.
We still don’t know our final position from Glanbia on peak milk limitations. We have our application for additional allocation gone in, the same as everyone else, but we might have to wait until much later in the year for final word on that.
In the meantime, we might start to get organised for a sale of surplus in-calf heifers towards the end of the year.