Our focus now has to be achieving a strong BCS when cows are dried off
The past month has put icing on the cake for dairy farmers in grass-based milk production systems. The memories of a harsh summer in 2012 and spring of 2013 have now been largely overcome by an excellent summer grazing season in 2013.
The farming community has definitely learned lessons from the past 18 months.
Farmers have taken the opportunity to harvest extra silage where available because of poor first cuts. The weather has lent itself perfectly to the conservation of excellent silage, barley, wheat and the prospects of a bumper crop of maize.
With spring breeding programmes now complete, it is time to evaluate what stock you will have for calving in 2014. It is essential to scan those cows still not confirmed pregnant that have been served at least 30 days.
Embryonic mortality will be significant up to day 35 of pregnancy. Less than 5pc of pregnancies will be lost beyond day 35, which is primarily accounted for by losses of twin pregnancies, followed by cases of neospora and salmonella in later stages of pregnancy.
With good grazing conditions looking set to continue into the autumn, it is vital that farmers move to reduce the risk of superlevy fines. Some plan to put their cows on once-a-day milking, which will reduce milk output whilst maintaining output of milk solids.
However, care has to be taken that SCC is not increased significantly.
In my opinion, one should now consider the number of cows needed to fill your milk quota in 2014/2015 quota year. Identify those in-calf heifers and cows which will calve before the end of April 2014. If this number meets your quota, then you should evaluate your winter forage requirement making an allowance for a longer wintering period.