Brighter outlook as we enter May
May Day is here and it's the month when the dairy farmer should make most money. The past 6-8 weeks have been tricky. As I write, cows are still indoors by night.
They haven't been out any night so far. Since February 29, they have been outdoors 53 days out of 63.
My grass growth has been poor, and it's not being helped with the severe night frosts. It was green in January and February but today it is every colour but green.
There are 68 cows milking at the moment. They are averaging 29l at 3.67pc fat and 3.15pc protein. This works out at 2.03kg milk solids per cow per day. The TBC is at 5,000 and SCCs are at 102,000.
Cows are being fed 6kg of an 18pc protein, 0.95 UFL maize ration in the parlour. They are also being fed 20kg of silage.
I still feed the silage through the diet feeder as the cows can be more picky with blocks of silage. There are seven cows left to calve. These should do so by the end of this month. Last month, I lost two calves at birth. The two cows were watched well enough but simply calved two dead calves. All the other calves are thriving well. A batch of 16 was weaned and moved from the calf house to the slatted house.
It's not ideal, but when the weather improves they will go outdoors. These calves are being fed a 16pc calf rearer nut and good quality hay, all ad-lib. I use the nut rather than a blend so as not to feed the crows. The rest of the calves are being fed milk and calf crunch. I don't use any milk replacer.
Calves seem to do fine on whole milk as long as they get enough of it. But it is a balancing act. If they drink a lot of milk they won't eat much crunch. When calves are 10-14 days they are moved from individual pens to groups of 4-6. Milk is poured into a trough with another trough for the crunch.