Breeding choices now will impact on herd in 2015
As I look around for my jumper I remember what my mother used to say: "Cast not a clout till May is out." After seeing temperatures hit more than 20 C last weekend it's hard to believe it can drop to less than half that a few days later. Such is the Irish weather.
Since the cows went out by day on March 2 they have only had to stay in for five days. My first rotation ended on April 18 -- two weeks later than planned. As yet, this is having no negative effect as grass covers are low to medium, while grass growth is currently around 40kg/ha/day. Cows are not out by night yet but this should change shortly.
The herd is producing 26l at 3.92pc butterfat, 3.20pc protein on 6kg of and 18pc dairy nut. This is a big improvement on last year as I was below 3pc for protein. It has to be because of the early grass in the diet and cows are in better condition after good quality silage over the winter. Making quality silage is so important as we mustn't forget it is the main food for four to five months. Sometimes we look too much at alternative feeds and lose sight of the necessity of making quality silage.
Tail painting began in the middle of March with AI started from April 1.
A big push is on this year in the northern region to breed from AI bulls with high fertility and high solids. A farm walk was held on a Monaghan farm on April 6 highlighting the importance of breed decisions made this year.
The core message is that female calves born next spring will result in the heifers calving down in 2015 when milk quotas are gone. The team of bulls I am using are LLK, AXN, MJI, GJM, IRP, VGE, LTL. These have a fertility average of €115.
This year I weighed my maiden heifers thanks to Teagasc. In the group of 17, eight were above the target of 330kg. The other nine varied from 237-308kg. This was an interesting exercise. It showed me that the nine heifers gained 0.76kg/day while the lighter ones gained 0.65kg/day. The group of nine was born between 01/01/10 and 05/02/10. The lighter group was born between 11/02/10 and 30/03/10. The lessons for me were that the early born calf reached the target and the later born calf needed extra feeding. I will hold off to AI the lighter group in six weeks' time.
There are 10 cows yet to calve, or 14pc of the herd. They are outdoors on an outfarm.