Farm Ireland

Monday 19 March 2018

Summer events ideal antidote to all this miserable weather

Gerard Sherlock

Gerard Sherlock

The longest day of the year is over and boy was it one long, miserable day. At least we aren't alone up here in Monaghan.

Two weeks ago I attended the IHFA open day in Kilkenny and it brought home to me how the south of the country has got so much more rain than the northern half.

Silage was cut on the last day of May and ensiled the following day. It was cut dry, but there was very little sun for wilting. Prior to cutting, the grass sugar levels were 3-5 with no nitrogen present.

More than half the crop yielded well and was ready, but the remainder wasn't that heavy. I shortened my pit by moving the stop barriers further in as I reckoned I wasn't going to have enough grass to give the right fall in the pit.

Slurry was applied immediately as rain was forecast and the regrowth was coming fairly quick. Eighty units of urea were also spread on June 13.

Keeping quality grass in front of the cows in June and July is never easy but this year it is a bigger challenge than ever.

I took out two paddocks on June 11 which yielded 40 round bales. They were wetter than I would have liked but there was nothing I could do.

I started topping on June 18. I use a disc mower. The common question up here is how low you should top. For me, the dung-pats are usually scattered.

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I have been spreading pasture sward on the grazing paddocks since May 28.


The soil sample results showed that one dressing should be enough to maintain the required soil fertility levels.

There are five calves still indoors. On another discussion group member's farm I saw some late calves from last year that were kept in all summer and they had done very well.

The later calves don't get the much needed TLC to push them on and maybe keeping them indoors is an answer.

The rest of my calves are in two groups. They are on grass that is a bit stronger than I would like without any meals.

If the weather gets any worse I will start meal as calves tend to lie behind the hedge too much in poor weather and don't eat enough.

I am keeping a tight eye on them for coccidiosis as I had to dose for it last year. They have been dosed with a fluke and worm drench.

A Friesian bull has been with the cows since June 15 and will remain there until the end of July. Cows were all scanned on May 24.

Problem cows were thankfully few, with just one cow out of 72 needing a CIDR. Five cows had cysts, which were treated with Receptal.

You can never say you have cysts cured as they can recur. Four cows haven't shown a heat yet. These will be checked again. The heifers will be scanned this week. These were AI'ed and then let run with a Friesian bull.

This year I have kept just one heifer back from serving. She was born in June 2011 and weighed 190kg in early April.


Seven of the April and May 2011 heifers are being served now.

They are too close to their target weight not to serve them.

The cows are yielding 24l at 3.61pc fat and 3.27pc protein, resulting in 1.70kg MS/cow/day. TBC is 6,000, while SCC is 105,000.

Cows are being fed 3kg of a 16pc high energy nut. Eight carry over cows are being fed no meals.

I have received no grant offer yet under the Targeted Agricultural Measures scheme for the new milk tank. It will be an autumn or winter job now.

I went into my local bank recently to lodge some cheques in the handy quick-lodge envelopes only to discover they are being done away with.

Now I have to bring in the laser card to lodge the cheques. I reckon the cheque book's days are numbered as everything is turning to laser card.

It won't suit many farmers and I doubt if it will lead to cheaper bank fees.

With the weather being so bad, it's more important than ever for farmers' mental wellbeing to keep out and about.

Thankfully, this time of year brings field evenings, stock-judging, calf shows, barbecues, co-op AGMs and many more events.

Make an extra effort to attend them and you'll realise that we're not on our own in our job.

Gerard Sherlock is a dairy farmer from Tydavnet, Co Monaghan. E-mail:

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