Take the sting out of a farm inspection by tapping into co-op expertise
Recent weeks have thankfully brought a break from the wet weather we experienced from August.
The cows were housed full-time on October 9 for two weeks but went back outdoors for a week.
It was like letting them out in early spring as most of them did a lap of honour around the paddock but they did settle down again. They returned indoors on October 27. I have finished up with a closing farm grass cover of 478.
I opened the second cut silage pit last Monday. The results of it were 27pc Dry Matter, pH 3.8, Ammonia (pc total N) 7.0, Protein 12pc, ME 11MJ/kg DM, DMD 72, FIM intake 98. All the bales on the farm have been consumed.
I was glad to get moving onto the pit silage as it is much drier silage and the cows shouldn't be as loose with their dung. The 65 milking cows are producing 15litres at 4.24pc butterfat, 3.51pc protein giving 1.2kg MS/cow/day, TBC 16000, SCC 145, Therm. 100, Lactose 4.78pc. Cows are getting 4kgs of a 18pc protein nut. This week I am starting to dry off cows, with the first calvers and thin cows likely to be the first.
All weanlings are still out on grass. Most of them are getting 2-3kgs of meals.
I will try to keep them outdoors until the beginning of December. Following on from the clear TB herd test last month, the weanlings were all dosed with endospec and moved around the outfarms.
I hear some of them coughing again, but they should be ok for another couple of weeks.
Recently I switched electricity supplier. This has now become an annual switch as there are savings to be made. There were savings of up to 3c per unit to be made by switching. I used the bonkers.ie website to compare all the suppliers.
The annual visit to IFAC also took place in recent weeks. I find their service very farmer-friendly and they really are on the ball with all taxation issues, especially succession planning.
They are now offering an independent service/review looking at pensions, savings, life policies which I will avail of in the next couple of weeks.
In a couple of weeks I will be having the Bord Bia SDAS inspection.
This will be my third inspection under this scheme. It seems no length from the first one three years ago.
No doubt there will be the usual last minute rush to powerwash walls, wash the outside of milk jars, order replacement tags and of course the paperwork.
The computer has made the paperwork a lot easier. All cattle movements and medicines are recorded on the IFC farm package.
It is important that I retain all the supporting documents as well such as knackery dockets, prescriptions etc.
An impending inspection also demands a look around the farmyard for health and safety issues and overall tidiness.
One job is to clear away all the empty fertiliser bags and bale wraps. A local recycling firm usually calls to collect them and all at a keen rate.
I do agree with the overall principle of the inspection because we as dairy farmers are producing a vital food and raw material.
In theory, the standards that we have to achieve for SDAS should be an advantage for us in world markets, but in practice not all dairy farmers see it like this.
Unfortunately, all co-ops have to go down the penalty route now to get all dairy farmers Bord Bia-approved. Many co-ops have designated people to help their dairy farmers prepare for the inspection.
My advice would be to take advantage of this help over this wintertime.
Gerard Sherlock farms in Tydavnet, Co Monaghan
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