Staying one step ahead of the rain for the second cut

The good weather has allowed for some excellent second cuts and haymaking.
The good weather has allowed for some excellent second cuts and haymaking.
Gerard Sherlock

Gerard Sherlock

The second cut silage is done and dusted for another year thanks to the brilliant sunshine at the start of last week.

I got three samples of grass tested by Teagasc. Sugars were averaging 3.5pc which was ok. Nitrogen levels ranged from below 50 to 250. Below 50 is ideal.

The advice given was that if there was good wilting weather the nitrogen shouldn't be an issue.

The RTE weather forecast at 1pm on Sundays decides a lot of the farm work for the week ahead.

As heavy rain was predicted for last Wednesday, I got a lot of the silage mowed down on Sunday afternoon.

The contractor rowed it up on Monday afternoon and into the pit on Tuesday.

The heavy rain did arrive in this part of the country on Wednesday evening so I was glad to have the silage finished.

Any remaining slurry in the tanks will go to the silage ground. I will spread the fertiliser soon as I am planning to take a third cut, as I haven't many bales made this year yet.

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Grass growth is still flying and it's no wonder with the heat and rain coming nicely.

Last week my farm cover was 814. I am stocked at 4.68 LU/Ha and the grass cover/LU is 170. Rotation length is now 25 days. I brought in 3ha of aftergrass four weeks ago and that reduced the stocking rate.

The 90 milking cows are presently producing 22.4litres at 3.90pc butterfat, 3.28pc protein giving 1.66kg MS/cow/day, TBC 5000, SCC 93, therm 100 and lactose 5.03pc. Cows are getting 4kgs of a 14pc protein nut.

Nitrogen in the form of CAN or urea is being spread at 27 units/acre.

The cows were scanned three weeks ago. There were a few cows that needed washing out. Two cows had embryonic deaths that required treatment with Estrumate and washing out. I am planning to take out the bull soon.

The good weather in July allowed me finish off a drainage job on some land that I have leased.

I put in some new drains using 150mm and 75mm drainage pipes.

Some existing drains were cleaned out. I am planning to spray it off with Roundup this week so that I can reseed it.

Most of the old straw bedding from the calf house will be spread on it to be ploughed in. There is about three acres to be done. I am also hoping to reseed a silage field as well. It was last done around 12 years ago. I didn't plough it that time, I burned it off and rotavated it.

It worked out well enough for a number of years but a lot of Italian-like grasses are growing in it now with very little yield.

Recently, I sold five store heifers in the mart. They averaged 390kgs and I got €1.90 per kilo.

I felt they did well as they weren't 'real' beef cattle. I am negotiating at the moment whether to sell off six bulls for shipping to Turkey or in the mart. I was encouraged to see a good demand for the plainer type beef cattle.

The importance of keeping the farmyard tidy and presentable at all times was reinforced recently when I had a visit from a milk powder purchaser.

The purchaser who buys from LacPatrick for the Far East just simply wanted to see where the milk powder originates. He was brought to the milking facilities and all was grand. We then went to the cows.

It was a hot afternoon and most of the cows were lying down chewing their cuds.

By chance as one cow passed by I patted her and at once the visitor remarked that the 'cows were happy'. I sensed from him that he was content to see this and that he too left this Irish dairy farm happy. The sight of cows grazing outdoors is a powerful selling point for our dairy industry.

Another great sight I witnessed last week was a field evening held at my neighbour's farm.

The host family had everything going for them - a beautiful hot evening, terrific animals to judge, a great balance of young and old people.

Finally, we should all be aware this is farm safety week. Let us all keep working to ensure we all farm safely.

Gerard Sherlock farms at Tydavnet, Co Monaghan

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