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Independent.ie

Sunday 21 January 2018

It's time to batten down the hatches for what is shaping up to be a long winter

Day three of the ploughing. Photo: Gerry Mooney.
Singer Derek Ryan.
Gerard Sherlock

Gerard Sherlock

We are now past mid-October and the good 'backend' I had hoped for never arrived.

The last four weeks have been difficult and challenging. The only saving grace is that the weather hasn't turned cold yet.

The cows are just about to go indoors fulltime. I have managed to keep them outdoors every day up to now. The milking cows have been housed every night since September 12. Ten dry cows were housed fulltime two weeks ago along with the in-calf heifers.

Present farm cover is 550kgs. This is probably where I should be at. I don't want it to go any lower as it will reduce grass for the spring. There is 5.5ha that the cows haven't been able to graze as the ground conditions are too wet. I will graze it with weanlings this week.

I completed an autumn grazing planner at the end of August with a target housing date of October 25. I reckon I will be 10 days ahead of this. By today I should have 90pc of the farm closed. Last week I had 83pc closed so despite the wet conditions I wasn't too far off the plan.

The 65 milking cows are currently producing 17 litres @ 4.31pcBF, 3.60pcPR giving 1.5kg MS/cow/day, TBC 7000, SCC 90, Therm. 100, Lactose 4.80pc. Cows are getting 4kgs of a 18pc protein nut.

They are eating three round bales every night. Cows were scanned last month. Twenty were not in calf, giving a 22pc empty rate. Most of these were fourth lactation cows and older. Six of them I didn't mind parting with as they had other problems such as high SCC and lost quarters.

I decided to sell off 14 of them in the local mart. Their average weight was 550kgs and their average price was €1.15kg.

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The younger cows that were going for breeding definitely brought up the price for the older thinner cows. The other six I will hold on to for another sale day as they still milking well.

Selling off the 14 has eased the pressure for cubicles as I hadn't enough spaces for my cow numbers.

I made another 30 bales of third cut in September. I will have to do a feed budget for the winter as it looks as if it could be a long one.

I am waiting on silage results to come back as the two silage pits were tested last week. I should have enough bales for another three to four weeks and then I will have to open a pit.

The annual TB test took place in the middle of last week. Following on from this, I will dose all the weanlings and move them around the fields in batches of 10 or so.

I did manage to get 30 units of urea out on the two fields I reseeded before the mid September deadline and it has really helped them. I didn't get the chickweed sprayed. I am hoping to get one of the fields grazed with weanlings.

Like every year there was a panic on to get repairs done in the slatted houses before the cattle were housed. I managed to get the few cubicles fixed that needed fixing and the bottom of a door replaced that had rotted away.

It's so important to keep on top of these jobs because they will only develop into bigger jobs.

The cost of the materials isn't the issue - it is the time involved

This day four weeks ago the national ploughing championships were in full swing. I travelled to Tullamore with two of the family on the Wednesday which was the wet day.

It was very wet but you have to get on with it. I always enjoy the Ploughing because there is such a variety of things to see, do and taste.

Where would you see a dancefloor full at 9.30 in the morning jiving to Derek Ryan?

Later in the day I saw a dancefloor with two inches of water on it full of dancers. It could only happen in Ireland!

Well done to all the organisers especially the traffic planners.

After leaving Tullamore at 5pm it was still bright when I got home and there were no delays in getting away from the site.

Finally, on a different but important subject, I recently received a text to confirm that my blood donation had been issued to St. James Hospital. I would urge and encourage all those who are able to donate blood to try and do so at the next opportunity. It is an hour well spent.

Gerard Sherlock farms in Tydavnet, Co Monaghan


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