Second cut silage and reseeding were hit and miss operations
Published 26/08/2015 | 02:30
The last few weeks have been a bit hectic between the fine weather, reseeding and preparing for the local Tydavnet Show.
It was probably one of the best weeks of the summer - dry, warm and pleasant for almost one week.
However, it made up for it last Monday evening with very heavy rain for almost an hour in these parts.
Overall, though, the summer has come and gone with no extremes of sun or warmth.
Every farmer got through the basic summer work and we have to be thankful.
We live in hope for a good autumn like last year.
Second cut silage was mowed down on Wednesday, July 22. The grass results showed no nitrogen and good high sugar levels.
It was mowed out flat, raked into 20ft rows on Thursday afternoon and picked up on Friday.
It was a hit and miss week with showers going around.
It could have been raining in one field and in the next field dry. I got a contractor with a wagon to put it in as I was dealing with a narrow pit and one side wall. I managed to get about 20ac into the pit.
The last five had to be round baled, yielding 81 bales. Hopefully this should finish me on round bales for this year.
One lesson I learned is to watch silage carefully from five weeks after sowing as I reckon I could have ensiled the grass at five weeks due to the high grass growth rates through mid-June to July.
Like the silage, the reseeding was a hit or miss with very few windows of opportunities to get it done. The six acres I finished on July 1 was fit for grazing six weeks later on August 12.
I spread one bag of CAN on it on July 30, as it seemed to be struggling a bit.
Another reason that may have been impacting it was there was a lot of chickweed growing in it.
There were little or no docks or any other weeds present. I sprayed it on August 6 with half rate Doxstar and I have 24 of this year's calves out grazing on it now.
They are getting no meal as I want them to clean out the grass. So far so good.
I reseeded three acres of the milking platform on August 13. It was burned off, ploughed, power harrowed, land levelled and sowed.
The ground is harrowed after seeding and is not rolled. It got 3t/ac of lime and four bags/ac of 10-10-20.
The grass seed mixture was 3kg AberGain, 3kg AberChoice, 2.5kg Aston Energy and 0.5kg AberHerald. I used 46kgs of grass seed or 14.6 kgs per acre.
The other drainage job on rented ground that I got started for one day had to be suspended due to the weather.
If September is suitable I will finish the drainage work and leave it ready for reseeding next year.
The 70 cows are currently producing 22litres at 3.63pcBF, 3.47pcPR giving 1.6kg MS/cow/day, TBC 10,000 on 4kgs of a high UFL 16pc dairy nut.
Meal levels were increased three weeks ago as grass was getting scarce.
Butterfats have come up again as they dropped to 3.47pc two weeks ago.
This lasted about one week for whatever reason.
Cows were on lush grass which was probably wettish. I am continuing to spread 25 units of CAN once a week on paddocks.
I have had a couple of mastitis problems with three cows in the last few weeks.
The SCC levels were rising and the milk recording results showed up the offending cows.
I will have to test them again to check that it has cleared up.
August is definitely the month for the local shows.
With Castleblayney and Tydavnet in Co Monaghan and Virginia Show in Cavan happening in the space of three weeks means there are plenty of chances to meet up with fellow dairy farmers.
Once the weather has been dissected, what's the next topic only milk price?
As one dairy farmer remarked to me, 'it's a case of getting the cows in, getting them milked and getting them out of sight again without thinking too much about it'.
Southern Irish farmers seem a lot more accepting of milk price than their Northern Irish and English counterparts who are campaigning strongly against the supermarkets' pressure on prices.
We are all waiting patiently for our markets to 'bottom-out' but patience won't pay the bills!
Gerard Sherlock is a dairy farmer from Tydavnet, Co Monaghan