Friday 30 September 2016

We are taking a step into the unknown on co-op merger

Gerard Sherlock

Published 22/07/2015 | 02:30

Farmers are at financial risk with the deteriorating milk price
Farmers are at financial risk with the deteriorating milk price

Grass growth has been exceptional over the last four weeks, with growth rates averaging 80 kgDM/ha a day.

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Managing all this grass is very challenging and on different days I felt like I needed at least 10 extra cows to keep ahead. To manage all the extra grass growth, two paddocks were taken out for round bales. A further two paddocks were mowed down in front of the cows.

This worked well as long as the weather was sunny and dry. The rest of the paddocks have all been topped bar two. I also introduced 6ac of aftergrass.

After topping and mowing I got plenty of chances to spray for docks during the past month and used Doxstar to get rid of them.

The 70 cows are currently producing 24 litres at 3.64pcBF, 3.30pcPR giving 1.74kg MS/cow a day, TBC 5000 on 2kgs of a high UFL 16pc dairy nut.

I reseeded 6ac of my silage ground. It was sprayed with Roundup and left for 10 days.

The contractor ploughed it and made it ready with a power harrow and land leveller. It was very dry and was easy to make the seedbed.

It received almost two tonnes of lime per acre. The grass seed was sown on July 1 and the following day the land got three bags of 10-10-20 per acre.

The grass seed mixture was 4.5kg Seagoe, 3kg AberMagic, 3.5kg Clanrye and 0.5kg Aberherald. I used 92kgs of grasseed or 15.3kgs per acre.

This is a bit on the high side but I was afraid that a hot dry spell might come in but this hasn't happened yet.

Quite the opposite as a steady amount of rain has fallen since. Indeed on the Sunday after it was sown there was a strong thunder and lightning storm but thankfully it didn't do any damage.

Two weeks on and it is coming on well and in two weeks' time it should be ready for dock spraying.

Last week a drainage job on another 6ac was started and when finished it will be reseeded as well. I also plan to reseed a paddock on the milking platform.

Cystic

The group of 22 maiden heifers were scanned last week with only one not in calf and it turned out she was cystic.

The cyst was burst during scanning and she was treated with Receptal and she was placed with the bull. She may need Estrumate if she doesn't show a heat.

These heifers were treated with a pour-on for flies. I read so much and heard so much about stock bulls not working but I thought it would never happen to me. However, it did or at least I think it did.

There was simply too many cows repeating and I never could see the Hereford bull 'performing'.

He was marking them well enough with the chinball. Maybe it was a case of too much work for him and the Herefords do tend to be a bit lazy.

I started back on AI using beef straws as a precaution. I purchased an Angus bull which should hopefully have everything finished in the next two weeks.

I began to round bale 7ac of my second cut silage last week. Even though it was only five weeks sown, when I got it tested it was showing up at a nitrogen level of 50 which is satisfactory.

I will go at the rest of the second cut of about 28ac as soon as the weather allows. I haven't decided yet whether I will pit some of the second cut or bale it.

My usual second cut pit is full from last year. I have a small pit 60ft by 25ft with one side wall and a back wall. It was used for the maize some years ago.

I'm thinking about using the big straw bales as a second side wall and using a wagon harvester as it would be easier to build up the sides.

Tonight I will attend a second meeting to confirm the amalgamation of my co-op Town of Monaghan with Ballyrashane from Co Derry. It is a major step forward and it is a step into the 'unknown'. Similarly to the many financial and management risks we take at farm level, risks have to be taken at co-op level.

At the moment all of us dairy farmers are at financial risk with the deteriorating milk price.

We must remain confident that milk price will come back up.

Gerard Sherlock is a dairy farmer from Tydavnet, Co Monaghan

gsherlock@ independent.ie

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