We definitely have enough moisture this week in Clara, with a hardy combination of hailstones and rain removing any danger of a drought for the foreseeable future.
Heat is another matter though, with temperatures stubbornly refusing to progress much beyond single figures so far this spring.
Grass is a scarce commodity on a lot of farms, with silage having to go back into the diet and meal trucks calling a lot more frequently than ideal for the time of year.
The woolly hats won’t be put away for the summer anytime soon
We should be able to stay on grass and meal only for the moment here and leave the silage in the bales, but heat is urgently needed to bring on grass enough to start producing any sort of surplus.
The silage ground is very slow to kick on and, worryingly, we are heading towards our traditional peak growth period with no sign of any kindness on the forecast.
The woolly hats won’t be put away for the summer anytime soon.
The growth will come at some stage. It’s just frustrating to see the year progressing along so far without any sign of respite.
We will spread another round of fertiliser this week, more in hope than confidence that it will improve growth rates.
Cows are milking well at least and hopefully the weather doesn’t affect breeding too much. We are into week five of breeding now and we have just over 90% served.
The heat detection system and drafting system continues to make life a lot easier on the breeding front
We are again seeing a higher return to first service from sexed semen, with just under 50% holding to those straws.
The conventional semen seems to be holding well above 60% but we will see how things look when we scan for the final results.
The heat detection system and drafting system continues to make life a lot easier on the breeding front.
We will draft out the cows that have not been bred and are more than 40 days post-calving again this week and see if we can accelerate their progress a bit. We have already done this in week three with good success.
Our calves have settled in well enough to their first grazing season outside. Despite the harsh weather, they look to be thriving well at grass so far and, most importantly, they look very healthy since turnout.
We have another batch ready to wean next week, which will leave us with very small numbers of dairy heifers in the calf shed
We have a feed hopper in the field with them and a ring feeder for hay. We had some issues with scour shortly after turnout over the last few years but we find that this system with hay in the field and a coccidiosis dose at turnout helps to prevent any issues.
We will start faecal sampling them later this month and only dose if and when it’s necessary. We have another batch ready to wean next week, which will leave us with very small numbers of dairy heifers in the calf shed.
We still have some of the younger beef calves left on the farm and with plenty of space in the calf sheds now, we will rear some of these on for the next few weeks before deciding what to do with them.
Discrepancies in milk returns
Off farm in the last week, both the IFA and the ICMSA have highlighted the discrepancies in milk returns from all of the milk processors across the country.
Unsurprisingly, Glanbia were at the bottom of the class again, with the west Corks flying high.
Most Glanbia suppliers are way beyond frustrated at this stage and there’s a sort of abject resignation about the whole situation.
Well done to the processors at the top of the class
The differences on some farms would pay for a family holiday, house extension, pay for college fees, change a car or in some larger units, even make the payments on a reasonably-sized block of land.
Well done to the processors at the top of the class, but the others need challenging at the very least and possibly warrant an in-depth investigation to see where improvements can be made. The shortfall is too significant to ignore.