Set out targets now and keep fingers crossed on weather
The new year is finally here, and I always wonder at this point what the year will bring in terms of weather. While grass may have grown well above expectation this winter, there is a concern about the farm being able to dry out in January after so much rain in December.
Most farmers are hoping that the weather will settle again over the next few weeks. This would allow the spring rotation plan to kick into gear and get cows out on grass in February. If the current deluge persists, grazing could be delayed until March in many parts of the country as paddocks are saturated.
Either way, the start of calving and the number to calve have been set in stone. We are now in the last stretch of the dry period, and anticipate the first calving and the start of the 2014 milk production season. It certainly won't be long until we are all back into it.
Quota will be at the forefront of many a producer's mind, especially where there is an abundance of in-calf heifers that haven't sold as easily as in previous years. But Mother Nature may yet have her say on the country's and each co-op's final position on March 31.
For a spring calving herd the fact that the dry period and Christmas coincide, means that it is a great time of year to rest, recuperate, enjoy all of the festivities and have some well-earned family time, without the daily cycle of having to leave every social event in the afternoon to go and milk the cows.
It also fits nicely with the short day lengths, meaning that there are still a few hours in the day where maintenance or new infrastructure projects can be done around feeding the cattle.
Alongside this, dosing cattle, managing cow condition score, and heifer live-weight gain all have to be given due attention. If we don't set the season up in terms of hitting calving condition scores and managing parasites, the bottom line is that we will suffer to a degree irrespective of how the year pans out in terms of weather.