Farm Ireland

Tuesday 23 April 2019

Water demand - 'I have purchased six 180 gallon concrete drinkers to replace smaller drinkers'

The average dairy cow drinks 25 gallons of water daily
The average dairy cow drinks 25 gallons of water daily
Gerry Nolan and his son James have been drawing two tankers of water a day from the River Nore to keep their cows hydrated during the heatwave. Photo: Roger Jones
Mairead McGuinness, vice-president European Parliament interviewing the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Agriculture Minister Michael Creed at the 'Farm Friday' Facebook Live event on Frank Murphy's farm, Glen South, Banteer, Co Cork. Photo O'Gorman Photography.
Gerard Sherlock

Gerard Sherlock

Sunshine, shorts, sweat and suncream have been the order of the day for almost three weeks now and as I write there is no change in sight.

We shouldn't be complaining as it was raining for long enough, but it certainly throws up new challenges.

Grass growth has taken a tumble on my own farm as grass growths are in around the 57kgDM/ha/day. As each day goes by there is less grass cover and in turn less grass growing. As the saying goes 'grass grows grass'.

Currently the 80 cows are producing 27.5 litres at 3.57pc butterfat, 3.30pc protein giving 1.95kg milk solids per cow per day, TBC 5000, SCC 191, Therm 100. Cows are getting 6kgs of a 16pc protein nut.

The farm cover is now at 685 kgDM/ha. The cover per livestock unit (LU) is at 140kgDM. This is getting low. The stocking rate is 4.9LU/ha. I brought 2.9ha of aftergrass back into the milking platform two weeks ago which helped a lot.

I have another 2.5ha of aftergrass that I could graze but I am trying to keep this for second cut silage and it is getting on the strong side.

If I increase the concentrate levels anymore I will have to change over to the 18pc dairy nut. Cows' dung is very loose now as I am feeding the maximum level of the 16pc nut.

I am continuing to spread 27 units of CAN on grazed paddocks. Topping is being kept to a minimum with only three paddocks topped so far. About four weeks ago a contractor spread 44t of lime on 27ac for me.

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Luckily it got two or three days rain afterwards which helped to wash it in, although there are still some white hedges around. The fields I did were for silage and some grazing paddocks but as it was at 1.6t/ac it shouldn't have any side affects.

Luckily enough before the real heatwave came in, I got my contractor to spray the aftergrass for docks and weeds. I used PasturePack on some of the fields and High Load Mircam on the rest.

I was pleased with the results. I was glad I hired in the contractor as he had the job done in far less time than I would. I reckoned it would have taken eight fills of the sprayer to do what he done with three fills of his large sprayer.

I got all the cows scanned last week. I was happy enough with the results so far and definitely an improvement on other years. There were 44 cows scanned in calf, with a further 28 as being ok but not long enough served.

The last eight needed treatment such as washouts or estrumate. There was three of these in calf but must have lost the embryo. The rest did cycle once and were served but didn't repeat.

The Hereford bull will be four weeks in with the cows tomorrow. I am aiming to have him out at by August 1. The last eight maiden heifers were served using Angus AI in the middle of June. I will scan all of the heifers at the end of the month.

With the heat there seems to be a lot of flies around the heifers. I have heard about a garlic based lick which is recommended or I must use a pour-on to help keep the flies away.


During this heatwave the water demands for the cows have increased dramatically. Drinkers have been put under serious pressure.

A bull with the cows doesn't help either as he seems more determined in the heat to toss the drinker over. I had to change over to a bigger drinker on a couple of the days as cows couldn't get adequate water quick enough.

I have purchased six 180 gallon concrete drinkers to replace smaller drinkers and to put extra drinkers in paddocks as well.

I hired in a digger and put a few drains using 80mm land drain in a paddock that I am going to reseed.

I know with the tightness of grass taking out a paddock might not be the wisest, but it is a low productive paddock and I reckon it is at least 25 years from it was ploughed so it is overdue. I will spray it off this week. I will plough it as ploughing will help the drainage of it as well.

During the hot spell the milking parlour and dairy got painted.

The blue and white rubberised paint was used. It was ideal weather as the parlour dried out quickly after washing in the morning and the paint was well dried by evening milking.

Gerard Sherlock farms in Tydavnet, Co Monaghan

Indo Farming