Over the next week or so, most dairy farmers will have their first-cut silage in the yard, the bulls will be out with the cows and the pressure will be off.

June and July represent a great time to complete other jobs.

The following is a list of tasks that farmers should consider doing over the next few weeks and months:

  • Power-wash cubicle sheds, calving sheds and calf sheds: This is a slow and laborious task, but it is important in order to reduce the chances of infectious agents surviving from one year to the next. Best policy is to power-wash, let it dry and then disinfect the sheds.
  • Power hosing: a key job for the summer months

  • Do a cashflow forecast: At this stage, the majority of the inputs required on-farm will have been purchased and 40% of the milk will have been delivered with a fair idea of what milk price will be like for the rest of the year. A cashflow forecast counts all the money in and deducts all the money out, giving a clear line of sight for surplus and deficit.
  • Become compliant with new rules: All farm roadways need to be sloped away from all watercourses and the water diverted to the field. Farmers stocked greater than 170kg N/ha or in a nitrates derogation must fence animals 1.5m away from rivers, and streams and water troughs must be located 20m away from them. Only watercourses with a solid blue line on the map in this link need to be fenced – https:store.osi.ie/index.php/osi-place-map.html.
  • Improve grazing infrastructure on the farm: look at tasks such as extending and topping up farm roadways, fencing and installing more or larger water troughs. Every farm should have a budget for spending money on these kinds of things annually.
  • Plan a holiday: Taking a break from the farm is essential for the mind and body to relax.
  • Protect reseeds: New reseeds will need minding from pests and weeds. Make sure to sow clover with the grass seeds and use a clover-safe spray such as DB Plus or Clovermax as a post-emergence weed killer.
  • Clean drains: Use the summer months to clean and maintain any drains on the farm. If water can’t flow freely, the drains will clog up with silt. Irish farmers are generally good to carry out drainage, but are poor to maintain drains, compared to farmers in other countries.
  • Monitor bulls: Keep an eye on the number of repeats from services by bulls, as a high number of repeats could indicate fertility issues. Also, watch out for signs of lameness or injury and replace immediately.
  • Measure grass: With grass growth rates high, the farm should be walked every five or six days and high paddocks skipped over for silage. This is essential in order to maintain grass quality in the critical months of June and July.
  • Treat calves for worms when they appear: If calves are thriving well with no obvious symptoms, then delay treatment, as this could lead to a build-up of resistance.
  • Treat heifers with a pour-on or other topical treatment for the prevention of summer mastitis: There is evidence that a lot of blind quarters in heifers when they calve down develop as summer mastitis. Stockholm tar is a good preventative treatment instead of pour-on.
  • Audit calf sheds and calf housing – are they adequate and labour efficient? Good facilities make calf rearing easy. Perhaps ask another farmer to do the audit for you and come up with a list of things that need improving before next season.