There’s been a share of rain since last week but certainly no washout day yet. Dark clouds were on the horizon but mostly bypassed the farm.

We had good overnight dews when the weather was at its warmest, so that kept pasture growth ticking along.

There’s still sufficient covers ahead of all groups so the target of getting to September without opening a bale should be achieved.

If conditions continue to be relatively dry, then the first option will be to put silage in the diet for the cull cows and introduce meal to the calves to get them used to it ahead of weaning.

Scanning was completed for the AI group a few weeks ago but was postponed for the younger cows and heifers. It was just too warm at the time and if they had been in the yard for too long the water demand when they returned to the fields could have been under pressure.

So a call was made to wait until the weather gets cooler.

Back at home, the decision to run them all as one group instead of a breeding and cull bunch meant for a very streamlined workload and it could become a fixture. Usually, there is a bull here but he was sent to Ballinascarthy this summer. That gave me the chance to test out my older cows a bit more and that proved a trial that could be here to stay too. Following a few years of culling hard for temperament or leg issues, I found it hard to put a cull group together in early May so I left them all together.

To simplify things, any cow that I had on my preliminary cull list received just one AI service.

I’ll admit I was a bit nervous scanning that morning. I took the opportunity to split them into bull and heifer calf groups and my nerves weren’t helped by a higher proportion of not-in-calf results from 10 cows through the crush.

Thankfully, the overall figures improved as we progressed and interestingly half of the “one straw” cows were in calf but there were a few others I was disappointed about. Visibly, they might be considered good cows but having had the same treatment as the rest they just couldn’t handle the pace.

As an American cattle breeder said to me before “you can’t see fertility”. Key to running a system like that is not having favourites and having a good supply of heifer calves to breed the following year. They dictate the pace.

With a bull to heifer ratio of 2:1 this spring, it’s looking like all those heifer calves could end up running with the bull for a short period, but final decisions on stuff like that are a long way off yet.

The main focus was on animal handling and ensuring the basic safety features on the tractor were all present and correct

I’ll have a better handle on the exact numbers due when the young cows and replacement heifers are scanned, but it looks like it could be a tight calving spread next spring.

The last week also saw an unannounced Health and Safety Authority (HSA) inspection.

The main focus was on animal handling and ensuring the basic safety features on the tractor were all present and correct. It was a pleasant experience and I’d certainly rather a proactive visit like that rather than a HSA inspector calling following an accident.

When you’re familiar with your own yard, the pair of outside eyes was good to point out any potential safety issues or suggest improvements.