Dairy: Robot technology impressive but it is reliant on high milk prices
We enjoyed the break from the rain here in the west over the last week. The previous wet spell had a major impact on ground conditions with gaps and roadways coming under pressure. I felt cow intakes were reduced due to the low drymatter of the grass, which resulted in a decline in milk production. We increased the 14pc protein meal to 1.8kg per cow daily, and this along with the spell has stabilised the situation.
Currently the herd are producing 16.7kg at 5.04pc fat and 4.05pc protein, resulting in 1.52kg of milk solids per day. SCC levels are at 160,000. Growth has been excellent for the past week at 60kg/ha drymatter, and farm cover at present is 965kg/ha or 310kg per cow.
We will begin our autumn rotation plan on October 5 with a target of having 65pc of the milking platform grazed by the end of October and all of it closed by December 5.
The planner highlights the percentage of the platform to be grazed every week and we have plenty of high quality round bales to feed as required.
We scanned the herd on September 23 and have an empty rate of 9pc, which is just under our annual target of 10pc after 13 weeks breeding. There were a number of surprise empties including three with non-viable calves. The scanner aged all three pregnancies at 70 days but my AI dates showed nearer to 120 days.
Moorepark research shows that as many as 10pc of early confirmed pregnancies subsequently turn up empty. In our case this year I believe BVD may be a factor. We tested during the voluntary year and culled a PI calf and a PI in-calf heifer. We have not found a PI calf in the three years since of compulsory testing. for this reason we decided not to vaccinate for BVD this year.
We screen the milk four times a year for all the major diseases and the second test on May 20 showed a very high BVD reading. On our vet's advice, we vaccinated immediately. It would appear we are exposed somewhere so until such time as culling of PI calves is enforced we will continue to vaccinate.