Wednesday 28 September 2016

Dairy: Grass is quickly disappearing and cows will be housed full-time

Gerard sherlock

Published 11/11/2015 | 02:30

Darren Doyle bringing in cows for George Langrell, Crettyard, Co. Laois. Photo: Alf Harvey/HRPhoto.ie
Darren Doyle bringing in cows for George Langrell, Crettyard, Co. Laois. Photo: Alf Harvey/HRPhoto.ie

We all enjoyed the last blast of heat last week and indeed for the last month all my animals have been 'happy out'.

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But grass has been disappearing fast in the last 10 days, and cows will be housed full-time this week.

They came in by night on October 21, which means that the cows have grazed for 247 days in 2015 - the same as 2014.

The routine has been quite simple since they went in by night.

They go to their grass allocation after morning milking and come back in at 4.30pm for evening milking. It leaves all work finished up by 6pm and an early return to the house in these dark evenings is always welcome. The weanling heifers were weighed on October 9, with the average daily liveweight gain across the 31 weanlings of 0.9kg and a range of 0.6-1.1kg.

The range in weights was from 295kg for a heifer born in mid January to 185kg for a heifer born in mid March. Thankfully only two were below 200kg.

I am happy with their performance to date and they should be easy to manage over the winter.

They are now divided into three groups getting 1 to 2kg of meal.

They still have plenty of grass on silage ground and should remain outdoors for another month. I weighed some of the in-calf heifers also.

Variation

There was a big variation here from 615kg for a January born heifer due to calve at two years of age, down to 410kg for a heifer born at the end of May 2014 that is due to calve in mid April.

There are about six heifers that will need extra attention, but they are not due until early April so I have a bit of time.

The last of the heifers were scanned and there was only one out of 36 heifers not in calf.

It turns out that she had no reproductive organs, so she was sold off.

Some 20 of this group have been housed full-time now, with their tails and backs clipped as they were going in.

Currently the 68 cows are producing 14 litres at 4.25pc fat and 3.60pc protein, and a TBC of 5,000.

This works out at 1.2kg milk solids per cow per day on 2kg of a high UFL 18pc dairy nut. Following a clear TB herd test I sold off two cows that had feet and udder problems.

Trade is still good in marts for the plainer cull cows. The round bales will soon be finished and I will be moving to pit silage.

I will use a mixture of this year's and last year's second cut.

During the good weather of mid-October I got a day of drainage work completed on one of the out-farms.

I had written off the possibility of getting this done in 2015, but when ground dried up so much in the autumn, it was a pity not to avail of the opportunity.

I used 150mm land drainage piping in two main drains and 75 mm in the smaller ones.

Clean stone was put on top of the piping.

Next year I will know better what other drains are needed, if any.

The Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) and Basic Payment payments have all arrived safely.

I have a student with me on week nine of a 12 week placement.

Amid all the conferences and meetings at the minute, I reckon one of the best we attended was one on first aid organised by the discussion group.

The two hour talk and demo was given by a member of the Red Cross. Nowhere near enough of us know about first aid.

The instructor told us that 85pc of Germans are highly trained in first aid compared to just 5pc in Ireland.

First aid should be taught more in our schools and maybe it would reduce the number of fatalities on our farms and on our roads. Knowing what to do properly when an accident occurs could save a life.

My week ahead

* I am waiting on the results of bulk milk tank samples for the type of dry cow tube needed as some cows need to be dried off immediately.

* Machinery needs to be well washed and greased and oiled for the winter and left indoors. Some repairs are also required on lights in the slatted houses.

Indo Farming

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