Storm Ali taught this dairy farmer a 'powerful' lesson

Gerard Sherlock with Dermot Sherry from the '3D' discussion group in Monaghan. Photo: Lorraine Teevan
Gerard Sherlock with Dermot Sherry from the '3D' discussion group in Monaghan. Photo: Lorraine Teevan
Gerard Sherlock

Gerard Sherlock

As we begin October we are all enjoying the ‘Indian’ summer that has engulfed the country for the past 10 days. I suppose in a way it is helping us to park Storm Ali which was a storm and a half.

The county of Monaghan often escapes the extreme weather but Storm Ali didn’t spare us.

Like so many others, I travelled by bus to the Ploughing Championships on that fateful Wednesday two weeks ago.

On the way down I got the phone call to tell me that the power was off. I was glad to hear that the morning milking was all done before we were cut off.

Once we arrived in Tullamore, we waited and we left. Sure it was disappointing, but understandable. From my own experiences with our local show, you will hold out as long as possible living in hope that the worst won’t happen.

But unfortunately for the NPA the worst did happen and Day Two had to be cancelled. Like everything in life you learn from it and move on. Roll on 2019 wherever it will be.

Travelling home that day, and especially when we got back into Monaghan, it was plain to see the huge numbers of trees that had fallen.

I arrived home at about 5pm and there was still no power and I had no generator.

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I checked with the Power Check website and it told me that it would be 10pm the following day before it would be on. I didn’t get milking that evening. Thankfully moving the cows into a fresh paddock of grass settled them quickly.

The next morning, after a few phonecalls with a sharing neighbour and a loyal electrician, I was up milking again. It was indeed Thursday night when power was restored to my area.

That was longest spell without power in my memory. Lesson learned: a generator is on order and hopefully it will be delivered soon.

We hear so much now about taking stresses out of farming and having a generator is a must on all farms to reduce stress levels.

Grass growth

Grazing conditions are still excellent. Grass growth has slowed up but it is October.

I started to feed round bales of silage to the milking cows on September 22. Grass was being grazed quicker than I had planned and the farm cover was dropping.

Last week the farm cover was at 1003kg DM/ha. The target is around 1200 so I am a bit lower. The cover/LU is at 287kg DM and it should be 335.

Cows are stocked at 3.5 LU/ha. I had a first grazing of the reseeded paddock last week. Conditions were ideal to

graze it. It had a grass cover of 1200.

I had sprayed it about 12 days earlier with Clovermax and Triad for docks and chickweed.

At present the 76 cows are producing 18l at 4.22pc butterfat, 3.88pc protein giving 1.5kg MS/cow/day, lactose 4.74pc, TBC 5000, SCC 138, Therm 100. Cows are getting 3kgs of a 16pc protein, 4kg of silage and 10kg grass.

I see a few more cases than usual of cows getting lame. There are white line cracks and bruising. They usually need a shoe.

I don’t know whether it is the harder ground they are walking on this year.

All the third cut silage was baled and made very well. I made about 180 bales from the 30 acres.

After baling, all slurry tanks were completely emptied. Fertiliser sowing is finished for the year also with some of the cow paddocks getting about 20 units of Urea/acre.

With the good September the hedge contractor faced all the hedges on the home farm. They were in need of trimming as it has been a few years since I had an opportunity to do it. It is important to trim hedges properly so that they will grow properly and thicken out.

Also it cuts down on the trimming around electric fence wires during the summer.

I was delighted to receive the text from the Department two weeks ago saying that the ANC payments were issued. It means there were no queries on the BPS form. I made an application to the SEAI for grant-aid on dairy vacuum pumps and motors.

Meanwhile, in the coming week I will be scanning all the cows and heifers. This will also coincide with my annual TB herd test.   

Gerard Sherlock farms in Tydavnet, Co Monaghan

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