Henry Walsh: 'It's shaping up to be a perfect summer for dairy'

Henry Walsh

Henry Walsh

Mother nature continues to smile on farmers this summer. Most of the heavy work is done and cows are looking and milking well. In addition, the silage pit is full to capacity and the countryside is looking green and vibrant, reflecting the fact that the balance between moisture and temperature is perfect.

For the first time since 2015 we are not looking to maximise growth in the second cut and can revert to my preferred farming practice of minimising mid-season fertiliser usage on the outfarms.

We applied 1.5 bags of 18/6/12 + sulphur on all of our first-cut ground to kick-start it. But we applied no fertiliser since early May on the areas the in-calf heifers are grazing.

The plan once again will be to harvest any surplus grass as bales by the August 15 to set up the ground for winter grazing.

We also gave the first-cut ground a bag of potash 50pc K per acre based on soil tests to keep the roots fed. The cows are looking very well, with a great shine on their coats and just a few on once-a-day (OAD) milking.

Breeding has gone well and at this point we are getting more confident that we will stay with 100pc AI.

We are inseminating with Hereford and Angus straws for the last three weeks and will continue using AI only till July 15.

We will probably never get a better year to breed without bulls, and there are a lot of advantages with AI. These include: AI bred replacements; beef bulls with figures; the potential for sexed semen; and last, but definitely not least, the whole safety element of not running bulls.

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We used mop-up bulls with the replacement heifers and had to cull two of them last week. We will remove them all from the heifers this week as they appear to have their work done and now their behaviour is getting aggressive also.

The herd are averaging 22.5 litres at 4.4pc fat and 3.8pc protein or 1.85 kg/MS. Our year to date (ytd) figures are 2,808 litres at 4.32pc fat 3.61pc protein or 228kg/MS/cow. We are still feeding 1,7 kg of a 14pc nut. That is 350kg/ytd. Growth was 66kg/ha/day this week with demand at 58kg/ha/day and cover per cow at 166kgs.

To date in 2019 we have just under one bale per cow harvested off the milking platform. The milking platform has got its second application of NexGen Urea at a rate of one unit per day and the farm is growing fine with a good colour. We have one paddock reseeded and plan to take another one out next week.

To date we have not heard any coughing from the milkers and having discussed it with Colm our vet the plan is to wait until we notice some, then take dung samples from those cows and get the fresh samples to the laboratory for testing on the same day. Based on the results we will decide whether or not to treat with a zero withdrawal pour-on. The calves got their first Ivermectin pour-on last week for 2019 as I was not inclined to wait for problems to arise and run the risk of losing thrive.

I recently read an IFAC report based on over 2,000 of their clients which highlighted that nearly half of all Galway farms have no clear succession plan and the respondents stated that part of the reason for this was that the holdings were not viable. It also confirmed that 85pc of the farms had an off farm income.

The report noted that 55pc of farmers were open to growing renewable energy crops. And while this reflects well on us being open minded and looking to do the right thing for the environment, it also highlights the reality that working off the farm requires an enterprise such as renewables or forestry that allows a more passive approach because it is not realistic to expect people to go farming every evening for no financial reward.

Indo Farming

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