The heat and humidity tested both man and beast alike

Stock photo
Stock photo
Gerard Sherlock

Gerard Sherlock

The heat and especially the humidity of last week tested humans and animals alike. Well-maintained hedgerows have an important function this time of year to provide necessary shelter from the extremes of the weather.

Over the past month, we have experienced fantastic grass growth. The terrific combination of rain and heat kept the growth flying. Keeping grass under control is the challenge.

Two weeks ago I pre-mowed a paddock for the cows. I couldn't afford to take it out for bales, as I would have been running short on grass.

The warm, dry weather suited the pre-mowing also.

The cows cleaned it out well but it does unsettle them, as they are not used to strip fencing. There was no change in yield or solids performance.

Last week, my farm cover was 802kg. I am stocked at 5.51LU/ha and the grass cover/LU is 146. Rotation length is now 20 days. Aftergrass from the first cut will probably have to be brought in.

This will mean cows walking almost 1km on the road. I have topped two paddocks as well, which means they will be a bit slower coming back. Pasture sward is being spread at the rate of about 30 units/acre.

The 90 milking cows are currently producing 26.3l at 3.78pc butter fat (BF), 3.29pc protein, giving 1.92kg MS/cow/day. The TBC is 5000, SCC is 188,000, therm 100 and lactose 5.03pc.

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Nearly all the calves are out of the house now. My two heifers at 17 months calved down with Friesian heifers last month. They had no problems. I decided not to put them through the parlour, as they were small; instead, two beef calves are suckling them.

As I was writing last month's column, the first cut silage was being mowed down. It was mowed on Wednesday, May 24. The contractor tedded out about half of it, which was the heaviest of it. This was done about three hours after cutting.

All of the grass was raked into big rows on the Thursday afternoon. On Friday, the grass was put into the pit. I was very happy with the dryness of the grass. They were ideal wilting conditions - sunshine and wind. Time will tell if it all pays off. The pit was covered immediately, as heavy rain was coming on the Saturday, which it did. The pit was covered using two black poly- thenes.

Earlier in the week, I was approached by a local man to see if I would use something different from the black tyres as weights on the pit.

I was keen to see what he had in mind - as everybody that ever covered a pit knows, the hassle and dirt of the tyres is hard going.

The local man has come with the idea of four long green sand bags stitched together and filled with crushed wheelie-bin tyres.

These tyres are used as they contain no thread and therefore will absorb no water.

This means that when I am lifting off the weights in wintertime, they should still be 25kg. It took 179 of them to do my silage pit.

They are placed in a chequered position on the pit. Again, like the silage itself, time will tell if they are a success. At least they will be a lot cleaner when being handled.

Slurry spreading

The slurry went out quick enough on the silage ground. About 80pc of all the slurry is now spread.

The contractor used the injector system on the back of the tanker so slurry was going down into the ground. This should have removed any slurry losses.

Grass did seem to come back quicker, although it's hard to quantify, as the rain and the heat of the first couple of weeks of June helped also. Cut sward with sulphur was applied by June 8 at a rate of 70 units/acre. I will have to keep a close eye on it now for weeds and docks.

The recent increase in milk price was very welcomed by us all. Thankfully, we have moved on from the May 2016 price of 23c/l to 32c/l. Cash flow has improved and bills can be paid quicker. At this time of year, paperwork and bills tend to be left to one side until a wet evening appears. However, my accounting year ends this week on June 30 so there will be a bit of sorting out to be done for that.

I hired in a fencing contractor last week to repair electric fences and replace broken posts. A lot of my strainer posts are now rotten.

I thought I would have got to it myself but time is going on, and every day another post is breaking.

Trying to find quality, guaranteed posts is a job in itself. I am having problems with my electricity - I seem to be blowing a 63amp fuse. Maybe it's case of more cows, more work and more power.

With the extra milk and the warm weather, the compressor on the milk tank is coming on during milking, which is draining my power. My electrician is working at it to find a solution.

Gerard Sherlock farms at Tydavnet, Co Monaghan

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