Thursday morning was sharp, still and beautiful. I was up and out early as there was a busy day ahead. There are only 24 calves left in the shed. They are all on replacer, once a day.
I collected my buckets from the dairy and headed down the stairs to the calf shed. The greeting from hungry calves was instant and loud. I mixed the replacer quickly.
The calves keep up the din until I turned down the feeder in front of them. Frantic sucking began and the calm was restored.
They will be going out to grass at the weekend. Seven born in the last few days of March and early April will remain on milk for a few more weeks to help them to catch up with the previous groups.
We calf rearers hate those April calves. At the end of a season, you are tired and already looking to next year. For the last few years, we’ve had a plan to eliminate those calves by stopping breeding in spring or selling the late calving cows. So far it hasn’t happened!
It’s not easy to get all the ends tied up. Maybe next year will be the year of no calf born in April
A cow that’s calving in April has lost at least a month of peak milk production when compared with the top cows in the herd. It results in profit being lost. It’s not easy to get all the ends tied up. Maybe next year will be the year of no calf born in April.
As I worked away and washed up; I was making a mental note of all the things I needed to do. The most important one is to list the changes that need doing to prepare for next year’s calves.
The birdsong was plentiful as I left the yard. The cows were in the highest paddock (above sea level) on the farm. The sun was up and bright. Some of the cows were in the lane and silhouetted against the blue sky as they made their way home. Every 20 seconds or so the line was broken as one mounted another to display heat. It was an idyllic scene.
Everything in nature has a time and an order
The opportunity to watch the cows and enjoy the beauty of the farm is one of the reasons I continue to get up early. I have the time to pause.
The birdsong was interrupted by the crude noise from a crow, a few more sweet notes and it ended abruptly. Everything in nature has a time and an order. I enjoyed a few moments of solitude until the humming of the machines in the construction sites up and down the road started up.
Bit by bit the noise level in the countryside is going up as reopening continues. It was time to make scones as my husband Tim’s discussion group were making the first actual visit to a farm in over 12 months to the leased farm that our son Colm is managing.
Discussion group returns
Discussion groups around the country are getting back out on farms. It is fantastic to be able to have real live discussions. The arrival of the jeeps in the yard was the first sign of normality.
Heartfelt greetings were made by a group that know each other, each other’s farms and sometimes families well
Farmers tumbled from their vehicles enthusiastically. Heartfelt greetings were made by a group that know each other, each other’s farms and sometimes families well. Their inhibitions have long been buried and real discussion can take place.
Figures collated by the facilitating Teagasc adviser, Adrian O’Callaghan prompts him to find the pinch points of low grass covers or high grass covers, milk constituent variations and so on. He too knows the group and the farms.
I think most members got something of real value from the discussion. They are together long enough to know they can bring a problem to the group and will most likely get a solution. If not a resolution, they will definitely get listening ears and support. That’s worth gold.
The cold weather is suppressing grass growth everywhere and consequently management of grass and feed is challenging
I can safely say that everyone enjoyed the long walk through the fields to see the cows grazing. The group stood around in a big circle. Then the cows encircled us.
The weather was calm and people felt comfortable and free. The cold weather is suppressing grass growth everywhere and consequently management of grass and feed is challenging.
Hopefully higher temperatures are on the way and in no time surpluses will be the issue. Don’t miss your discussion group meeting. The time is well spent.