The rain beating down on the milking parlour roof last Monday evening as I milked was a welcome sound.
We had listened to weather warnings and waited in anticipation all weekend for the rain to arrive, but instead it just seemed to be getting hotter. Monday was the first rain of any significant amount in this region since St Patrick's Day.
Thankfully, the drought did not affect us too badly here.
The local Grass10 group held a conference call the previous week and the advice was very clear: calculate your grass demand and your grass growth (I was measuring once or twice a week); subtract one from the other and divide by your stocking rate - this gives you the figure on the deficit and a guide on using another source of feed to fill the gap.
One of the lessons learned from the 2018 drought was to act quickly and don't run down the farm cover.
For a few days I had to increase meal feeding by 1kg just to keep demand close to growth. The lowest growth rate in the past five weeks was 51kgs/ha/day. Last week's growth rate was up at 75kgs/ha/day. The AFC at present is 654. The cover/LU is 169 and the SR is 3.88.
The fresher reseeded paddocks are driving the growth rates. I am coming back round on these reseeded paddocks at 18 days. The paddock I reseeded on April 28 is due for grazing this week, so that is an eight/nine-week turnaround. Three weeks ago I sprayed it with a few loads of parlour washings, which brought a great greenness back to it.
I also spread about 30 units/acre of 18-6-12. I was watching it tightly for weeds. There were little or no docks but a fair bit of chickweed and some thistles.
I decided to spray it last Tuesday with Pastor. The other paddock I reseeded was sown on June 5. I had to delay the sowing of the grass seed as it was too dry and no rain forecast.
With last week's rain I expect it to have made an appearance at this stage. Grazing ground continues to get 18-6-12. I started to use protected urea as well. About 20-25 units/acre is being spread.
Second-cut silage was growing slowly but surely and seems to have got a good boost from the rain. It was sown on May 22 which should leave it ready for cutting again in two to three weeks time.
During the good weather work continued on draining and developing the final piece of the land that was started last year. This final piece contained a lot of bog-like peat and had a number of the old traditional flaxholes in it.
Flax was an important crop years ago and flaxholes were used to soak the flax after it was cut. Some of these holes were six foot deep. Last year we concentrated on getting the water drained away from these holes. This year they were well soaked and dried out. As the weather was good enough, I decided to draw a large amount of clay and soil from a nearby car-park development to help fill up the low areas. This has all been levelled out.
I still have a heap of topsoil from the new roadway installed last year and this can also be spread to improve the seedbed. I have decided to leave this for next year's reseeding programme as time will help it settle and firm up.
Jobs like this take time and patience and should benefit the milking platform in time.
The Hereford stockbull went into the cows last week after eight weeks of Friesian AI.
Four May-calving cows were left unserved after the eight weeks. These cows have been checked and are okay. I was milk recording in early June so I pregnancy-tested 20 cows and they were all in-calf. One of these did repeat a few days later at six weeks.
I haven't scanned or analysed the heifer servings yet, but I am disappointed with conception to the first service and to sexed semen. The Hereford stockbull was with them for four weeks and I saw too many chinball marks.
Some of the other tasks in hand or being planned include changing the milk liners in the milking parlour, a TB herd test, scanning, second-cut silage and monitoring the calves closely for dosing.
Remember to continue to farm safely and carefully.