Dairy: Discussion group's visit to Lyons farm was an eye-opener

Tails and udders were clipped
Tails and udders were clipped
Gerard Sherlock

Gerard Sherlock

It's almost mid-October and the weather is still very pleasant for us in this part of the country. Grass is still growing with growth rates of 50kg/ha/day being recorded. I have started to close up paddocks with the first one closed since October 5. I am strip grazing paddocks in an effort to clean them out well as I find it harder to clean them out when they are eating silage as well.

As all fertilizer has stopped since mid-September, only soiled water is being spread and it is fast running out. I won't have enough to do all the paddocks as they are closed up.

The paddock reseeded on August 13 was grazed by the cows on October 2 had a cover of 1,400kgs of grass drymatter. I sprayed it with doxstar a week before grazing. There wasn't a huge amount of weeds present but the spray should clean it out completely.

Sometimes spraying can check grass growth but not on this occasion as it seemed to grow even more vigorously. I had thought about letting in the weanlings to graze it but they wouldn't have done as good a job as the cows. The conditions were ideal for grazing with the cows, which doesn't happen too often.

I got my first cut silage tested. The results came back good enough. The dry matter was 22.3pc, protein 10.8pc, ME 11.2, DMD 72. I was expecting a little higher drymatter.

It is an improvement on last year's results which I set as a goal to achieve in this year. The weather still plays a huge influence in making good silage.

Currently the 70 cows are producing 16.5l at 4.03pc fat and 3.64pc protein giving 1.3kg milk sold per cow per day on 2kg of a high UFL 16pc dairy nut.

They are getting round baled silage after each milking. They eat for about an hour and I make sure at night that they go out to the paddock. Cows had got very dirty so all the tails and udders were clipped. It makes a big difference when milking.

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The annual herd test was last week. All the in-calf heifers got their first shot of the salmonella vaccine with the second shot due this week.

The weanling heifers are kept moving around onto good grass in two groups. I sent the vasectomised bull off to the factory last month. He was 34 months old, had a carcass weight of 388 kgs and I got €2.80/kg. I don't think I would have done better anywhere else.


While many are getting their first payment of the Basic Payment scheme this week I am still waiting for my areas of Natural Constraint payment began in mid-September. You always know when you don't get the first payment in the first few days there must be a problem with the application.

What's most disappointing is that not knowing what the problem is. I called into the Department's stand at the Ploughing event with my Eircode and I asked them to check out my details. I was told it was a digitising problem.

In these times can these problems not be sorted out quicker by using the latest technology?

The vast majority of farmers meet the closing date deadline for returning forms.

This should be reciprocated by the department when they are paying out. Every day I eagerly await a text message to bring the good news.

Last week my discussion group headed off to visit a feed mill and the Lyons dairy unit in Dublin. The feed mill was Dooley's in South Monaghan.

We all got a great insight into the production of rations but what was most interesting was how raw materials are bought. It sounded very much like a game of poker in that a lot of gambling takes place on how far ahead raw materials are bought. The new Lyons unit attracted a lot of interest from us all as it is a state-of-the-art dairy unit to demonstrate a series of production systems.

It was a pleasure to watch being milked in the new rotary parlour. If there are enough incentives in today's budget a first rotary parlour may be built in Co Monaghan, yet!

Gerard Sherlock farms at Tydavnet , Co Monaghan

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