We are in a slightly better position for grass and water this week than we were last week after 40mm of rain last weekend from a couple of thunderstorms that luckily landed on parts of the farm at least.
However, we’re still at that tipping point of needing to feed cows heavily to build up any sort of buffer of grass ahead of them, but the water supply has recovered well for the moment.
All of the farm is green again and growing, rather than white or brown, but we have a lot of low covers of grass in the wedge that need time to grow before the cows get back to them, so it’s 5kg of concentrate again for the foreseeable future and probably the same of silage again next week if we don’t get more rain in time.
We are walking long distances to silage aftergrass for the next few days and will leave silage out of the diet to minimise the days spent on the long commute, but once that’s grazed, it looks like we will be feeding a lot of silage to try slow everything down and to hopefully build up grass covers into the autumn.
If the dry weather persists into September, we will have to minimise the unproductive stock on the farm. We have scanned the cows and we have 9.5% empty after breeding. We will go through them this week and some of the lower yielders in this group will be dried off early and fed heavily either in a shed or on ground away from the milking platform to get them finished as quickly as possible.
There are, as would be expected, some empty cows doing exceptional yields still at this stage in the year. We will milk these on for the moment with milk price where it is and have a look at everything again as we move through September.
The herd scanned very well overall with a lot of cows holding to the first or second service. About 55% of the cows that held will calve in the first three weeks, with another 20% in the following three weeks. The heifers will boost this figure further to over 80% of the herd due in the first six weeks next spring.
The sexed semen strike rate was a little disappointing again on the cows at around 40%, but it worked well enough on the heifers with over 50% holding. We will reduce the amount of sexed semen on the cows again and try to target it more where we do use it. The heifers will probably get more sexed semen, if anything, but we might try to target it to natural heats rather than synchronised or forced heats.
We had a lot of cows holding to beef AI which should see a good demand for calves next spring.
With the kids back to school next week, we will try to get down to support the Iverk Show in Piltown next weekend for their last outing of the year
We have some Belgian Blue, Charolais, Speckle Park, Angus and Aubrac calves on the way. All are easy calving and on the shorter side of gestation days, so hopefully they perform as expected and the cows hit the ground running next spring.
With the kids back to school next week, we will try to get down to support the Iverk Show in Piltown next weekend for their last outing of the year. We will hopefully show a couple of cows in the Friesian classes on Saturday, although the kids will probably spend more time in the pony ring than the cattle ring.
Hopefully the weather is good for the local show, but we obviously won’t complain too much if we have to bring the wet gear.
The big fear for later in the year now is that all the rain will come at once. We’ve had less overall rain this year in the southeast than 2018 so nature will probably make up for it at some stage.