We are moving through the gears quickly this week in Clara, with calving in full swing. We are calving more than 10 cows per day so numbers are rising quickly in both the calf shed and the milking parlour.
We have had a good run of heifer calves so far, with about 80% female calves born at this stage. This will probably turn quickly next week after we calve the last of the cows that were inseminated with sexed semen.
We tried this as a bit of an experiment last spring and used 140 sexed straws at the start of the breeding season. We used it on cows rather than heifers, but just over 50% held so we should get close to 75 heifer calves from this mini-trial. Some bulls worked better than others on conception rate, but it would have to be seen as a success overall.
These heifer calves are arriving in the first 10 days of the calving season so they should get a great head start on their journey to calving themselves in two years’ time. We will keep what we need for replacements and should be in a good position to sell the surplus as calves.
We will make more of an effort to get the main herd out to grass every day, but the freshly calved group will be left in a bit longer
We have the milking cows out at grass most days since the start of calving. The forecast looks a bit tougher over the next few days, so we will see how it goes. We will run the cows in two groups for the next while. We will make more of an effort to get the main herd out to grass every day, but the freshly calved group will be left in a bit longer.
We will feed maize silage to the milking herd right through the spring to keep energy levels up. They have calved in good condition and health is excellent so far, so we will try to keep it that way.
The automatic feeder was turned on this week for the first time too. We have 40 calves moved on to it so far and the aim is to have over 200 calves on the two feeders by the end of February. We should be switching over to beef calves in March, and most will be sold out of the yard as soon as possible from then on.
We got the first bit of slurry out last week as well. We had an umbilical system in for a couple of days, which got a good volume of slurry out, and covered a lot of ground in a hurry. We have left urea off the to-do list for another few weeks as we wait for soil temperatures to lift.
We might try to get another section of the farm spread with slurry instead over the next month and hopefully skip all of the slurry area with the first round of urea. We would have been guilty of overlapping with both in the past but we are targeting a reduction in bought-in fertiliser where possible this year.
We might not get to see the full benefit of these trees in our lifetime, but hopefully they will be there for future generations to benefit from
With that in mind, we have soil sampled most of the farm last week so we will have a strong look at the results when they are in. Our indexes are usually high enough, but we will see where we have to target slurry and FYM over the next couple of years and see where we can save a few euros on purchased fertiliser.
We also planted a couple of hundred young trees on the farm over the dry period. After doing the derogation course, we decided to go with more native trees to help biodiversity on the farm.
We went with oak, whitethorn, willow, birch and holly. We might not get to see the full benefit of these trees in our lifetime, but hopefully they will be there for future generations to benefit from.