We have 80% calved here in Abbeyleix and all has gone very well so far, thankfully. We have 45% of the grazing platform grazed and we’ve had cows out morning and night for three hours almost every day, but it has been tough with the rain.

I hope that I get the second half of the platform grazed in drier weather. We had 102mm of rain this February compared to only 19mm last February – but then we had 123mm last March, so with any luck the months will be reversed.


The first group of Friesian bull calves left the farm last week. We are part of the National Genotyping Programme (NGP) and the results were a bit slow at coming back, but they were still back before the calves were three weeks old. One farmer buys all of our bull calves every year and he wants them at three weeks old, so the genomics did not affect us moving calves. I keep the 10 or 12 highest-EBI bull calves every year to sell on as breeding bulls; all bulls kept this year have an EBI of over €300.

The farmer that buys the calves is part of the Twenty20 club with Tirlán and I think it is a great initiative, as he is more confident about getting a good price in the factory and we are very happy with the price he gives us. It is great for us to have one farmer that buys all our bull calves straight from the calf shed and he sees the benefit of getting calves from a closed herd to minimise disease risk.

The first 10 heifer calves also left the farm last week. The big benefit of the NGP for me is picking the heifer calves for selling. Previously, I would have just kept the first 20 or 30 heifer calves for ourselves. As we are receiving the genomics results back so early, I can keep the highest-EBI calves as our replacements. The purchaser of the heifer calves also has the advantage of having the genomic results at hand. Calves that were sold ranged from €250 to €290 EBI, and sold at €400/calf, which I am very happy with.

We had a few cases of mastitis over the last number of weeks and the SCC spiked to 230,000, but once we treated those cows it dropped back to 113,000. Cows have loads of space in the shed when they come in, so I presume the tough weather caused the mastitis because we could not have the shed any cleaner. The latest butterfat came back at 5.1% and protein is at 3.53%.

Cull cows

We also sold the last of the cull cows last week. I had not planned to sell them yet, as they needed another month of feeding, however, the man that bought the previous batch rang to see if I had any. When I looked at the factory prices, they seemed to be heading on a downward trend, so getting €1,150/head was a good price, I felt. We were offered €750 each for these cows back in December. I calculated each cow ate approximately €50 of nuts per month and €70 of silage. Therefore, with feed alone, they cost us €240/cow since December, the extra €400 definitely left a profit. Should I have kept them and finished them myself? Time will tell, but I am happy and someone else can make a few pound off them too.

All of our silage ground has water lying on it still, so the chances of getting slurry onto it before it is closed for silage is getting less likely. I do not think there has been a spring in a long time that we haven’t been able to get slurry onto any of the silage ground. My wife’s flock of New Zealand Suffolks has started lambing this week, six weeks later than planned, but she had an issue with a stock ram last summer.

The plough also went out this week, but only to make space in the shed to put the hedge-cutter away.

Surely, the weather will dry up in the next few weeks, so my dad can actually get some ploughing done.