Henry Walsh: Spring is off to a positive start but after 2018, we are taking no chances
The spring 2019 calving season is kicking off on a positive note.
There is plenty of grass around and even though breeding began on May 3, as it has done for the last 17 years, we are seeing more and more cows (10pc) calve before their due date -and scanning predicts 65pc calved inside the first three weeks.
Good ground conditions following a very mild and fairly dry winter, perhaps the best ever, have led to exceptional winter grass growth across our region.
We measured 9 kg/DM/ha (up from 4 kg/ha average for the last 10 years) from closing on December 1 to our opening walk on February 1. Our opening farm cover of 1,100 kg/ha is the highest we have ever recorded.
The extra grass grown (5kg x 60 days = 300 kg/DM/ha @€270 tonne = €80 on every ha) will directly replace purchased concentrates which will bring very welcome cost savings.
The range of opening covers within our discussion group is from 1,000 kg/ha to almost 1,500 kg/ha. This grass is exceptionally good quality because it is still growing actively and has not endured any lodging due to heavy rain or waterlogging which would trigger decay in the sward.
Our wedge is showing a very solid graph ranging from a highest cover of 1,800 kg/ha to a low of 700 kg/ha. Larry, our contractor, spread slurry on 15pc of the milking platform in late January with the umbilical trailing shoe.
We will spread 25 units of urea this week and also intend to spread 10 units of phosphorous with sulphur, which should keep the farm growing over the next few weeks.