Farm Ireland

Tuesday 20 March 2018

Poor quality grass sees milk protein fall to 3.12pc


Gerard Sherlock

Gerard Sherlock

Milk protein took a drop to 3.12pc last month. I reckon it must be down to grass quality. During the third week of last month, I mowed two paddocks in front of the cows because the grass covers on these were reading at 1,800kgDM/ha.

I knew I was going to have to top after they were grazed. It took a couple of days for the cows to settle and together with showery conditions it was hard to allocate the correct amount. But I feel the paddocks recovered well and more quickly than if they were grazed.

Current production is 23L/cow at 3.74pc fat and 3.20pc protein. This works out at 1.6kg MS/cow/day on 3kg meal. Milk levels are holding up well. Cows are now grazing good quality grass as 90pc of the cow grazing paddocks have been topped.

One paddock was taken out for round bales. CAN continues to be spread at 20 units/ac. All the cows have been scanned. I have some cows with cysts which have been treated with Receptal and 10 days later with Estramate. I'm a believer in scanning early and often to pick up problem cows. These cystic cows of mine showed a heat, were inseminated and didn't show a repeat. I was sure they were in-calf only for the scanning. Twenty-seven heifers were scanned with two not in-calf as yet on August 3.

As I write, second-cut silage hasn't been done yet. It is still testing too high for nitrogen at 250 and 2.5 sugars. The N could be reduced if there was good wilting weather. But this humid, dampish weather is not ideal. I will keep a close eye on N levels as a couple of days can make a big difference. The slow growth in June resulted in low N take-up, leaving it all for the last four weeks of July. I think it is important to try to get second cuts as good as possible as this is fed out in the October to December months which is the important dry cow period too.


Dosing of the calves continues every 3-4 weeks. As the heifers were being scanned, they were treated with a pour-on for flies.

Thankfully, I haven't had any cases of summer mastitis and I hope it stays like that. I will clip all cows' tails shortly as some are getting dirty. As I mention animal health, some front feet on my cows cause me more problems than hind ones for whatever reason. Front feet seem harder to cure as well. As I walk cows on the road from now on to get to aftergrass, it is an extra chore to separate lame cows.

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Work being planned for the next month will include servicing the milking machine, emptying slatted tanks, power-washing the slatted houses, touching up some paintwork and, all going well, a little break.

I haven't planned for any reseeding this autumn, hoping instead to get some done next spring. Springtime reseeding worked well for me before as it brings in grass quickly into the rotation provided you keep an eye on weeds. Over the next few months I will have to invest in a new milk tank as my current tank is fuller than full at peak. The tank I have was upgraded with an extension some years ago and worked very well. They are a huge investment and need to be planned for.

The other main item occupying my energies at the moment is the up-coming local show at Tydavnet on Saturday, August 20. The traditional agricultural show has stood the test of time along with the worst excesses of the Celtic Tiger, and many of them are now celebrating 60-70 years in existence. If anything, they are benefiting from the recession as more people are supporting local by staying local. They epitomise positivity in a community.

Recently I listened to a radio interview describing people in plumbing terms. We are all either 'radiators' or 'drains'.

Radiators are positive people always motivated and encouraging. Drains are people who literally drain you of energy and are totally negative. Make sure and go to your local show and meet loads of radiators.

Gerard Sherlock is a dairy farmer from Tydavnet, Co. Monaghan. Email:

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