Dairy: Financial discipline is essential after the massive hit on milk price
The month of October was excellent for dairy farming here in Oranmore. There was good growth and the drier than normal weather gave us super grazing conditions.
This led to excellent grass utilisation and clean out. Farm cover is 810kg drymatter (DM) per hectare with a growth of 30kg matching the demand of 30kgDM/day for the past week. We intend to finish grazing in early December with a farm cover of 550kgDM/ha.
Today the herd is yielding 15 litres at 5.26pc fat and 4.23pc protein, or 1.46kg milk solids per cow per day with an SCC of 170,000 on 2.2kg of concentrate and 2kgDM per day of high quality bale silage which is being fed since October 25.
We started the final rotation on October 3 and 65pc was grazed on October 31 as required by our autumn rotation planner. I am not willing to graze more than 65pc for a few reasons even though the top dairy operators are now suggesting up to 80pc grazed by November 1.
Firstly, calving on this farm does not begin until February 10. Secondly, we do not milk cows indoors in the autumn because there are not enough cubicles.
In order to take advantage of a dry farm we have developed a system that allows us to stretch the last rotation to 60 days and milk off grass until early December by supplementing high quality grass with bale silage and concentrates.
We hold the cows at milking time if ground is wet and also dry off the first calvers, empties and thin cows to reduce the demand for grass to 30kgDM/ha on the milking platform.
Some of the empty cows have been sold in milk and the rest are housed on good bale silage plus 4kg of meal. The plan is to sell all the empties by December 15 to ensure only in-calf cows are housed for the winter.