Gerard Sherlock: Gearing up for the silage season

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
Cian and Caoimhe O'Shea with Buddy the Lamb at the launch of Agri Aware's National Open Farm Day 2019. Photo: Pat Moore
Gerard Sherlock

Gerard Sherlock

Even though May Day arrives tomorrow we were all basking in some real summer sunshine over the Easter season.

It has been a fabulous spring even with its variety of temperatures. It makes it so much easier to face the early morning milkings knowing that a dry day lies ahead.

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The first rotation for the cows ended on April 18. This was about six days later than I had planned for on the spring planner. The first paddock grazed in the second rotation had a grass cover of 1500 on it. It was the freshly reseeded paddock.

Presently, the cows are going into covers of 1400. They are still indoors at night.

But after the heat of last week and improved growth I am confident they will be out fulltime shortly. Last week the farm cover was at 737 with a cover/LU of 134 and cows are being grazed at 5.51Lu/ha.

The 90 milking cows are presently producing 27.1litres @ 3.98pcBF, 3.27pcPR giving 2.02kg MS/cow/day, TBC 5000, SCC 86, Therm. 100, Lactose 4.96pc.

They are getting grass and silage and 6kg of 18pc dairy nut. I have started the third round of fertiliser following after the cows with two bags of 18-6-12+S.

This is my first time to use this compound. It is a highly recommended compound in order to get P&K on in decent amounts. I am well on target to have the 100 units N on by early May.

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The breeding season began on April 15 with between three and seven cows being served daily since then.

Cows had been tail-painted in late March and heats noted down.

The teaser bull with a chinball has been very busy and I'm sure he looks forward to the nights off as he doesn't stay with the cows indoors.

I know it is recommended that the teaser bull shouldn't go in with the cows for the first three weeks or so but I find it a lot easier to identify the marked cows for heat as some heats don't last a long time.

Recently, I purchased eight bulling heifers.

They are all AI bred and have an average EBI of €160. They are on an outfarm and the second teaser bull is with them.

They will be served with AI Friesian. The first group of this year's calves were weaned last week.

The silage crop is growing well. Hopefully in 3-4 weeks it will be ready for cutting. I had to spray about 6 acres for chickweed with High Load Mircam.

Otherwise it is fairly clean with very few docks. Preparing for silage involves servicing the tractors, cleaning out the pit, emptying the slurry tank to leave room for the collection of effluent, checking the silage stop barriers for breakages and the one dirty job of unrolling the cover on a hot day to dry it.

I try to have as much as possible ready for the covering of the pit as normally for this job help is scarce and everyone has lots of work to do.

During the past month the milk liners were changed on the milking machine. I was also approved for a grant from SEAI to replace the vacuum pump and upgrade the milk pump on the milking machine. This work has to be completed by late June.

It should benefit a saving in the energy bill. The parlour will be getting a complete washdown as I have the Bord Bia audit coming up shortly.

The 18 months between audits seems to fly. I also can't forget to visit my Teagasc advisor to get the BPS forms filled in.

On Friday last, the student I had finished up his eight week placement on my farm. I hope he experienced and enjoyed the "full-on" life on a dairy farm in springtime. This year the placement period was reduced from twelve weeks to eight.

On a worrying note my local agricultural contractor had a number of items stolen from his yard recently during the night.

Luckily and thankfully, all of the items were found and returned within a couple of days.

This was so unusual as seldom do people get back what is stolen.

Facebook and vigilant people recovered the equipment in this case.

It is so important that we look out for each other and report anything unusual happening in our communities.

Gerard Sherlock farms in Tydavnet, Co Monaghan

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