Farm Ireland

Thursday 22 March 2018

Great April weather gave ideal settling-in time for the animals

Gerard Sherlock emptied three slatted tanks of slurry.
Gerard Sherlock emptied three slatted tanks of slurry.
Gerard Sherlock

Gerard Sherlock

We are almost in mid-May and time is flying with silage cutting just around the corner. I would be slightly concerned about silage ground. It had a terrific start this year, but from May 1 it seems to be lying down a lot.

This was very evident after last week's heavy showers. There has to be plenty of growing in silage yet as there should still be a lot of nitrogen in the plants. As the grass starts lying over, the docks have appeared with great vigour. It's too late now to spray and I feel spraying would have put down the grass as well.

The terrific dry weather of April was a great settling-in time for animals. Looking back it's hard to credit just how cruel the weather was this time last year when it was the third week of May before we had any meaningful growth.


Thankfully, there has been a great turn around this spring.

My cows went to grass fulltime on April 24 and have been grazing happily since. It takes the first calved heifers a grazing round to settle into a routine. There are 70 cows milking now. Stocking rate is 3.81LU/Ha. They are producing 29.5litres @ 3.68pc BF, 3.29pc PR giving 2.14kg MS/cow/day, SCC 181000, TBC 11000. There is a farm grass cover of 643. Cows are on 3-4kgs of a high UFL 16pc nut. Pasture sward fertiliser of around 30 units is being spread once a week.

There are five cows yet to calve. Two of the last cows to calve had milk fever and a couple of days later also developed mastitis. The milk fever was cured easily enough, but the mastitis took longer to resolve with tubes and Betamox. I had two sets of twins within one week – all were well although the mothers did retain cleanings. Cows are having good strong heats.

The 23 maiden heifers all received AI. They have since been dosed for fluke and worms and divided into two groups, one with the Friesian bull and one with the Hereford bull. Some of this year's calves are now in the slatted house and will be going to grass shortly.

Also Read

I had two newly born calves with pneumonia which cleared up with treatment. It's hard to believe that a calf can be born with pneumonia, but it does happen.

April's dry ground allowed me empty three of the slatted tanks of slurry.

The slurry was fairly thin and went on grazing paddocks. I also spread whatever waste straw and silage was about.

After my last grass measurement I decided to take out a paddock for reseeding. This paddock hasn't been performing well and it got rightly poached in the wet years. It was last reseeded in July 2001 using a one-pass system. It will be sprayed off first and then I must decide whether to plough or do one pass again. It will need some drains as well. By reseeding now, the paddock of almost three acres should be ready for grazing in about six to eight weeks.

My Single Payment application form was filled in online on May 2 by my Teagasc advisor. We went through each map carefully and added or subtracted small pieces as needed. The area for my claim was reduced from 55.36ha to 55.32ha. I don't think this will have an impact on the CAP budget.

  • Gerard Sherlock is a dairy farmer from Tydavnet, Co Monaghan

Indo Farming