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Monday 22 October 2018

Gerard Sherlock: We are aiming for a third cut to be on the safe side

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
Pictured at a Teagasc/Carbery Group open day on the farm of Pat O'Neill, Clohane, Bandon, Co.Cork - winner of the 2018 Carbery Quality Milk Awards -were John Horgan, Teagasc Regional Manager; host Pat O'Neill; Peter Fleming, Chairman Carbery Group and Tom Harte, Tom Harte Farm Services. Photo O'Gorman Photography
Gerard Sherlock

Gerard Sherlock

Our next bank holiday is at the end of October, a sure sign that this year is flying in and it will definitely be a year to remember.

Since last month the temperatures have dropped to more normal levels but it is still very pleasant and manageable.

There are huge drought variations in this small country of ours but here in north Monaghan growth has improved dramatically.

The rainfall that came in the past month worked wonders. Last month I was wondering had my second cut silage stopped growing and within 24 hours of the cooler temperatures and a small amount of rain, grass growth and grass colour were improving.

As I measured grass covers last week I knew we had turned the corner.

Quality grass was growing again. The farm cover is now at 1105 kgDM/ha. The cover per LU is at 286 kgDM. Grass growth is at 66kgDM/ha/day.

This is a bit on the high side but a good complaint.

Cows are stocked at 3.95LU/ha. One paddock of almost four acres has been taken out for reseeding. At present the 80 cows are producing 26.3litres at 3.73pc butter fat, 3.36pc protein giving 1.92kg MS/cow/day, lactose 4.82pc, TBC 5000, SCC 123, Therm 100.

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Cows were getting 5kgs of an 18pc protein nut but this has been reduced to 3kgs.

Over the past four weeks cows were getting up to 7kgs/day of concentrates. I fed no silage and I continued to sow fertiliser weekly as normal.

I am now spreading 27 units/acre of urea, making sure to spread in the evenings and before any rain being forecast.

The bulls came out last week from the heifers and the cows. There were a few cows still repeating but I hope they were only a few. I had two cases of mastitis recently. Both cows had it earlier in the year. They were treated with noraclav and tubes.

Second cut silage was cut on July 16. It was mowed and ensiled without any hassle. I didn't tedd it out.

It was mowed out and left for 24 hours before raking into large swaths. It was picked up 24 hours later. The pit wasn't as full as I would have liked it.

All the silage fields got slurry again and got about 60 units of urea. I am aiming for a third cut of bales to make up the shortfall. I feel everybody should be trying to make as much silage as possible this autumn to try to alleviate some of the fodder shortages throughout the country. Traditionally the northern half of the country depended on the south of the country for any fodder shortfalls but this won't be happening this year.

Still on fodder, I got a load of that other scarce commodity three weeks ago - straw. I bought 33 of the 8x4x4 bales of winter barley straw costing me almost €75/bale.

It is very expensive compared to other years but the price is a result of the many reasons we are being told - scarcity, less acreage sown, spring crops poor with short straw length. It is good quality golden straw. As somebody remarked you would be tempted to eat it yourself.

As I mentioned already I reseeded one of the cow paddocks last weekend. It was burned off just over two weeks. All the calf house bedding was spread on it before ploughing. It needed plenty of levelling as it was fairly rough. The grasseed sown comprised the varieties abergain, aston energy, aberchoice and drumbo. It got lime as well. I have another three acres on a rented outfarm for reseeding this week.

During the past month I have replaced water drinkers on the milking platform. I have used seven 180-gallon concrete drinkers along with adding in a second plastic drinker into paddocks where I could. I bought a load of fine gravel to help to level a platform for the drinkers.

I got in a plumber to connect them up. They were done according to a plan over a number of weeks depending where the cows were grazing. The total cost was around €2,300.

The good dry weather motivated me to do jobs that needed doing but were put on hold last year.

Jobs like draining corners of fields, repairing broken drains resulting in 'boilups' repairing holes in concrete on the street, hanging gates instead of temporary tyings. All of these jobs we all have and they need doing.

Also, we can't forget about the powerwashing of the slatted houses. This has got started as well.

Finally, we are in the middle of the show season and they are always great family days out. I am looking forward to Tullamore on Sunday and my own local show Tydavnet on August 18.

Gerard Sherlock farms in Tydavnet, Co Monaghan

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