We need to try and stay cool during the stress of silage time
Published 17/05/2011 | 05:00
Dairy farmers have to be very happy with the year so far. April was as ideal a month as we could have had -- dry sunny days, ideal grazing conditions, and good growth. This month's rain has been very welcome so far, but I stress 'so far'.
Production figures for the week ending May 13 are 28.2l at 3.48pc butterfat and 3.32pc protein. Thanks to Mary Kinston's piece on this page last week, I know that this translates into 1.97kg milk solids. As she stated, "any herd near 2kgMS would be considered to be doing very well".
Looking back at previous years' figures, I see that my proteins are much improved. Last year they were 3.16pc. The extra protein could be an extra 1c/l.
What do I put it down to? A combination of cows on good silage over the winter, cows out on grass early, top-quality grazing conditions during April and some carry-over cows (12pc). From past experience, when proteins don't drop below 3pc they rise steadier and quicker. My butterfats are slightly back, but I would say this is because of the low fibre in grass.
The cows are grazing total leaf at this stage, but when grass starts heading out this should rectify itself.
I am currently feeding 4kg of a 16pc high energy maize nut. This will be reduced to 3kg shortly as grass covers increase. The carry-over cows are getting no meals.
The present stocking rate on the milking platform is 3.2cows/ha. The ideal pre-grazing yield using Teagasc's pasture wedge for me is 1,175kgDM/ha. With a projected demand of 16kgDM/cow/day, I need a growth rate of 51kgDM/day to supply demand.
So far, I am going into covers this week of 1,300-1,400kgDM/ha. But as growth rates increase, I will probably take out a paddock for baling or bring it in with the first cut.